CIO Careers: Measuring Your Credibility

What does a CIO need to be successful? We each have our
own answers. Some may say that technical excellence and knowledge count most,
others might place the emphasis on business awareness, relationships or just
hard-core ambition. Certainly, all of these are necessary to reach a certain
level in an organization. But to take the final step and be accepted as someone
who is truly a member of the C-suite, you need one more thing: influence. This
is the fourth in a series of articles on how to position yourself as an
influential leader in your organization. The first installment was CIO
Career Killer: Lack of Influence
; the second was CIO
Careers: Why IT Gets No Respect
; the third was "Winning Over Business Users When You Don’t Have a Dime."

As you work toward attaining the level influence with
your business counterparts that you need (and deserve), you’ll encounter what
may be the greatest test of your commitment. This test will require a strong
heart and a tough stomach, because your ego is likely going to take a bruising.
Have faith, because the rewards of getting over this hurdle will pay long-term

I’m talking about the challenge of establishing
credibility with your entire IT organization, from the top of the IT org chart
to your network administrators and support technicians. While it may be obvious
to some, this concept of organizational credibility bears clarifying. Before
you can expect to have credibility and influence with the executive suite, you
absolutely must have genuine and real credibility with your own people.

Your IT organization doesn’t have to love you. They don’t
have to think you are the most brilliant leader in the world. What they must
do, however, is believe is that you have a good plan. They need to believe that
you know where you are going, and that you know how you are going to get there.
They need to be able to articulate and support your basic vision and strategy
for IT.

Some of you reading this are likely thinking: “What is he
talking about? Of course I have credibility with my people. They all work for
me. They are part of the IT organization.” Well, here’s a reality check: You
may think you have credibility with your people, but the facts tell a very
different story.

Over the course of the past 18 months, I asked 150 IT
professionals (from networking managers to business analysts to senior
directors) a set of questions with the purpose of uncovering whether or not
their boss has real credibility with them. Here are highlights of what I found:

  • 70% of respondents could not articulate the IT strategy
    and vision
  • 54% didn’t think there was an overall plan for IT
  • 60% felt that the IT leader was too caught up in
  • 57% said that the IT leader was focused on the wrong
    issues for the business


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