10 Questions Every Good CIO Should Ask Himself

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 11-25-2013 Email Print this article Print

Great leaders don't stick to their job descriptions. After all, such a mindset goes against the grain of every great achiever in the history of the workplace. However, CIOs may get so busy "minding the tech shop" that they could overlook some of less tangible but still critical roles that make for strong oversight of an IT department. With this in mind, the recent book, Beyond the Job Description: How Managers and Employees Can Meet the True Demands of the Job (Palgrave Macmillan), poses the following 10 questions that CIOs and other managers should ask themselves to evaluate how well they're doing with respect to communicating effectively, demonstrating empathy toward employees, matching the right skills to the right projects and other essential areas that successful leaders address. Author Jesse Sostrin indicates going "beyond" requires a careful blend of compassion and discipline. Nobody wants to work with a mean boss, after all. But wishy washy types will lose the room just as well. In addition, it's important to make sure your own tech workers also understand that their roles require a sense of achieving what's "beyond." Sostrin is president of Sostrin Consulting, which identifies work challenges and provides solutions for Fortune 500 companies. For more about the book, click here.

  • Dialed In

    Question 1: "How well do you align skills, interests, knowledge base, passions, etc. to the true job demands?" Individual talent means little if it's misallocated.
    10 Questions: Dialed In
  • 20/20 Vision

    Question 2: "Have you sat down with staffers to lay out a mutually beneficial short- and long-term game plan?" Teams need to know the immediate—and ultimate—goals at all times.
    10 Questions: 20/20 Vision
  • Best Practices

    Question 3: "Have you established expectations for communications, collaboration and performance—and do you reinforce them often?" Don't leave this as something for "employees to figure out themselves."
    10 Questions: Best Practices
  • Unwritten but Understood

    Question 4: "Do you clearly identify the less tangible 'job within a job' that isn't included in the position description?" These duties often matter as much as the stated job functions.
    10 Questions: Unwritten but Understood
  • Above and Beyond

    Question 5: "Are you rewarding employees for exceeding 'job within a job' expectations?" If you don't, they won't feel compelled to do anything beyond the basics of their job description.
    10 Questions: Above and Beyond
  • Problem Solver

    Question 6: "How often do you proactively remove roadblocks and bottlenecks which impact team performance?" In doing so, they'll respect you as an IT department advocate who delivers.
    10 Questions: Problem Solver
  • Personal Assessment

    Question 7: "How high does the employee's working-life quality rank on your list of priorities?" Good bosses demonstrate compassion by caring.
    10 Questions: Personal Assessment
  • On Point

    Question 8: "Do you come to meetings prepared with relevant information and research?" Your teams will spot a boss who wings it—and conclude that you're wasting their time.
    10 Questions: On Point
  • In Conference

    Question 9: "Are you willing to meet as often as is useful, but only as long as is necessary?" Leaders take pride in their meeting utility and efficiency.
    10 Questions: In Conference
  • Follow-Through

    Question 10: "Do you follow-up either formal meetings or one-on-one 'actionable conversations' with e-mails that put in writing what needs to get done?" When you do, there's no ambiguity about your expectations.
    10 Questions: Follow-Through
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.


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