Surprising Insights About Strategic IT Leadership

We wanted to give IT leaders a chance to explain what motivated them to want to become more strategic—beyond the fact that they’re being told they must do this.

Strategic leaders

Most IT leaders haven’t even reached the point at which their stakeholders can ignore their strategic perspective.

Instead, they are still struggling with the first barrier to strategic IT leadership: Most IT leaders remain caught in a purely functional view of how they can contribute to their business. They feel challenged to see what they can do beyond solving the crisis of the day. They lack a greater vision of the value their technological expertise can offer their business.


Insight 3: Developing a Strategic Voice Remains the Biggest Challenge for Most IT Leaders.

When we dug deeper into our community of IT leaders’ feelings about why they couldn’t act more strategically, one common statement emerged. They repeated this one statement in many different ways, including the following:

“I lack a unique vision of how IT can add value to my company.”

“I’m not close enough to the business to truly understand their concerns.”

“IT leaders are never trained to develop a compelling strategic vision.”

“I don’t know how to transform my knowledge into tangible strategic solutions.”

Throughout our survey, when we asked these IT leaders what was holding them back from becoming more strategic, at heart they kept saying just one thing: “I want to add strategic value to my business, but I don’t know how.”

It takes guts to admit that. And it can be painful to dig into why this might be. But it’s also necessary.

IT leaders are intelligent, thoughtful people with a deep understanding of technology.

And as technology becomes the key value driver for each function, IT leaders can deliver strategic value like never before. In fact, right now, IT leaders are the only people who can create a truly compelling, cross-functional vision and strategy for their business’ technology-driven future.

So why are IT leaders struggling to develop and deliver this strategic voice? There seems to be something missing.

This "something" prevents many IT leaders from, as one respondent put it, “connecting the dots” between IT’s technological expertise and their business’ burning needs.

We’ve spent decades helping IT leaders construct visions and strategies that energize their people, and get them a seat at the table. We have some thoughts about what this missing "something" might be.

But for today, we want to hear from you. What do you think this missing "something" is? Why do IT leaders struggle to “connect the dots” to produce a compelling strategic vision for themselves, their people and their business?

Marc J. Schiller, the founder and managing partner of Rain Partners, is a leading voice on IT leadership and management. His book, The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders, discusses significant management challenges facing IT leaders today—and how to address them. Schiller's focus on stakeholder engagement, management frameworks and creative communications has helped dozens of IT leaders gain a seat at the management table. A former partner at PwC and global practice leader for IBM, Schiller has worked with, and learned from, CIOs on three continents.

This article was originally published on 10-18-2017
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