How Executive Coaching Has Made Me a Better CIO

By Larry Bonfante  |  Posted 11-01-2013
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By Larry Bonfante

Last month I wrote about what executive coaching has taught me about CIOs. This month I’ll focus on how my experiences of coaching CIOs and other IT executives have changed how I do my own job as a CIO.

First of all, I have come to better appreciate the importance of celebrating success. Many people who work in IT may go weeks or even months without someone showering praise on them. Think of the poor soul working at the help desk. All he or she does every day is deal with cranky people who are annoyed to have to call them! If we don’t take the time to recognize our people, give them an appreciative pat on the back and celebrate their successes, who will? I’m a Type A New Yorker who likes to check off a box on my to-do list when I finish a project and move on to the next one, but I have learned the importance of slowing down and celebrating successes with my team.

It may sound funny, but while I obviously see the value I provide in serving as an executive coach, I had not taken the time to find someone who I could confide in and leverage as a personal sounding board. I have started engaging a mentor, who I respect and whose insights I value, and leveraging him as a sounding board.

While I have always had a deep respect for my team and how incredibly effective they are, working with other CIOs has given me an even deeper appreciation for the culture that we’ve built and the way my team "plays the game" every day. I feel incredibly fortunate to be a member of such a talented and dedicated team of professionals.

I also find myself hearing my own advice to my clients in my head when I am faced with a challenging situation. It’s a lot easier to administer "sage" advice than it is to take it! I have gotten into the habit of reading my own book Lessons in IT Transformation once every few months. The book’s advice has been helpful to many CIOs and I find I need to periodically remind myself of these best practices. Hey, I’m human, too!

Finally, working with so many talented executives has been a humbling experience. I have come to realize the impact a leader has in terms of the importance of modeling the behaviors they espouse. Also, I have come to better appreciate that the actions they take not only impact themselves, but they are serving as the proxy for every member of their team and are representing these talented individuals to executive management and the board. This is a responsibility I have always taken seriously, but my coaching experience has heightened my awareness of how important it is that I lead by example and serve as an effective ambassador for my team.

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com.