Are You the Leader You Think You Are?

By Allan Alter  |  Posted 01-06-2006 Print Email
CIOs think they and their teams provide strong leadership. But when business executives, IT staff members, and even IT executives are much more critical. Why do so many CIOs struggle as leaders?
With leadership, perception is the better part of reality: It's hard to be a good leader if your followers don't see you as one. Sadly, few people will tell their bosses what they really think of their leadership. Yet it's important that CIOs find out. Companies urgently need CIOs who are effective leaders, and CIOs have consistently indicated in previous surveys that "leadership ability" is the most important personal attribute they need to succeed. And they think highly of their own leadership qualities: 96 percent of CIOs in this month's survey consider themselves excellent or good leaders. But is that really true? To find out, this month we asked IT executives, managers, IT professionals, CEOs, CFOs and other executives to rate their CIOs' leadership qualities. CIOs of course, were asked to rate themselves.



To download the survey results, click here. The best news from our survey is that most people in IT organizations, as well as executives outside IT, think their CIOs are effective leaders. But here's the problem: Other executives and IT personnel are considerably less likely to rate their CIO as highly as CIOs rate themselves. CIOs are also much more likely to consider IT to be better led than other company departments. A minority of CIOs, it turns out, are not the strong, capable leaders they believe themselves to be.

Are they fooling themselves, disappointing their bosses and peers, and driving their staffs to despair? That's undoubtedly true for the 8 percent of direct reports to CIOs who agree with the statement: "My boss is a danger to my company."

This month's survey suggests several reasons why CIOs and other IT executives are missing the mark as leaders. CIOs are weaker than they realize at several key leadership skills, the study found-in particular, dealing with difficult "people issues," and sensitivity to others.

Another shortcoming uncovered by this month's survey: Although it helps to have charisma, CIOs are less likely to succeed if they try to dominate others, and more likely to succeed if they are the voice of reason and logic. Unfortunately, judging by the results, some CIOs don't realize how domineering they can be.

Finally, as in our last leadership survey in October 2003, this month's study raises serious questions as to the effectiveness of these programs.



To download the survey results.


 

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