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CIO Skills: Do You Have What It Takes to Lead IT Today?

By Larry Bonfante  |  Posted 09-05-2012 Print
The skills required to be a true agent of transformation are not technical (or even business-related); rather, you need to develop skills in human dynamics. Here are five core skills you can start developing today.

I'm so often asked about the competencies required to be a successful CIO in the 21st century that I chose to make this a main topic of my book "Lessons in IT Transformation."

It seems that many CIOs are more focused on acquiring the latest and greatest technology services and solutions than they are on building their personal skillsets.

However, the skills required to be a true agent of transformation are not technical (or even business-related); rather, you need to develop skills in human dynamics.

Let's review a few of these key CIO competencies.

First of all an effective CIO has to be able to get a diverse group of stakeholders to embrace and align around a common vision and purpose. With so many people in every enterprise having their own personal agenda, this is no small task. Getting alignment requires the key competency of managing through influence. We have to get people to want to do what we are asking of them, because oftentimes we aren't in a position to demand their compliance.

We also need to be able to develop key partnerships -- both within our own organizations as well as with outside third parties - with those who can bring the skills and resources we need to complement our existing talent base. More than at any time in our history, great accomplishments are the result of great alliances, getting various groups to come together to work on a common goal.

Perhaps the most important role of the CIO is that of relationship manager. We must be able to become trusted advisors for our internal clients and our external consumers. We need to be the "go to" people they seek out whenever they are starting a new business initiative and need our expertise to help drive their success.

CIOs need to be incredibly effective communicators. We need to be able to motivate and inspire people to take action. We need to communicate in terms they understand and in ways that motivate them to take action and support our directions.

Finally we need to be able to drive complex and challenging change efforts, and convince people to step out of their comfort zones, take risks, and do things that require courage. Are you up for the challenge?

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is CIO of the United States Tennis Association 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@


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