Gartner outlines seven essential CIO skills


People skills, rather than technical knowhow, summarises what today's CIOs need to be successful. This was Gartner's view at its Symposium/ITxpo, currently being held in Orlando, Florida.

At "The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results" seminar, the analysts agreed there had never been a more energising time to be a CIO, but today's most successful CIOs must deliver exceptional results.

A book to be published in November examines the key skills CIOs need and how they can be developed.

"During the course of our research, we observed the CIOs with the best people skills used these soft skills to influence expectations well ahead of when priorities were set or a project began," said George Hallenbeck, director for intellectual property development for Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting.

"Before a dime was budgeted, or staff time allocated, they were meeting with their colleagues and engaging in candid two-way conversations that defined what success would look like."

Soft skills producing hard results was his theme and co-authors Graham Waller, vice president and executive partner with Gartner, and Karen Rubenstrunk, who was formerly with Korn/Ferry's CIO practice, helped to enumerate the seven skills.

After three years of studying successful CIOs in the industry, the top attribute the team decided was the ability to commit to leadership first and everything else second. In other words, the acceptance that nothing will be achieved without getting everyone involved engaged with the project.

A high-performer may be an incredibly complex and creative thinker but has to act collaboratively and not rely solely on their intellect. Being able to let go and not be afraid to show vulnerability helps to create the deep, personal connections that opens the way to being an inspirational leader, the authors said.

Personality is important for managing relationships with company peers, external suppliers, and customers as well. Hallenbeck said investing in these horizontal relationships form the foundation to drive extraordinary results.

From these skills, it is obvious executives must understand they are always on stage and be effective communicators not just verbally but in their ability to communicate a feeling that compels people to take the right actions, he added.

This will provide the right environment for creating a compelling vision that connects with people makes them feel that their contributions are meaningful and valued. By developing people in this way, the successful CIO will increase their capability and capacity to deliver results.

By developing their teams, CIOs can create a legacy from which a successor may arise when they move on to a new posting, Waller said.

"All CIOs must deliver results. What distinguishes the best is how they do it: through people, by people, and with people," Waller concluded.