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What are the traits of a successful CIO

What are the traits of a successful CIO

In a changing IT scenario, you might be wondering what contributes the main traits of a successful CIO. Traits may come and go, but there are some that will never change, and these continue to top our list, year after year:

Solid understanding of the company’s financial health

It is the duty of the CIO to make a check of the financial condition of the company before he makes investment decisions. The CIO must be able to explain how the IT department can reap profit while paying for itself. The aim of the business is to evolve into a successful profit center where 1 and 1 adds together to form 3.

Strategic thinking is a good trait to have

Every CIO must be good at strategic thinking because only then he will be able to support the goals and objectives of the business. He should bring new technical services and solutions to meet these goals. With strategic planning, you can always keep abreast of what is happening in the IT industry, where your business is headed and how to make it relevant to your company’s initiatives.

Leaders should understand their people

This is a challenging, but undeniably important trait that every CIO must possess. When you have people that have good technical background and imbibed with a sense of business, you can train them to be “your people”. They will always be true to your business goals and definitely an asset you can make use of.

A CIO should be well known not by his designation, but by his role

It is the role of every CIO to elevate the company’s status by bringing new ventures and make new investments. So the real power of your work can be evident only when you can show its value, not by just listing the responsibilities that you can do.

CIO can be evangelists, leaders and even digital coaches

CIO must be capable leaders who play a key role as evangelists, digital coaches and leaders. For example, every organization should have someone who can understand the promise of various digital trends and use the ones that can be good and profitable to the organization. A good leader in a CIO will be able to see the potential for innovation in them.

CIOs are self-aware

No leader can take their company to the top level without being aware of their own qualities and capabilities. Understand yourself, your limitations and then learn to enhance your strengths and power your weaknesses so they vanish altogether. If there are any limitations that stand in the way of success, those should be overcome as well. Hence, it is said that CIOs must be emotionally brilliant, because when they are so, they will be able to gauge their strengths and weaknesses successfully. According to top CIO leaders, emotional brilliance tops 80-90% of your success as CIO. It actually draws the line between an ordinary leader and an exceptional leader.

You may sometimes need to head Shadow IT

The use of Shadow IT is definitely on the rise and that is not something you should be encouraging because every business needs technology that is fit for their business. Rather than maintaining strict control of every technology that is incorporated in your company, it is imperative to accept new technology requests because the more you make of technology, the more it will be good for the company. It is also important to draw the line between wastage technology and technology that you will use. Shadow IT or Stealth IT is a term used for informational technology projects that are sometimes managed within the organization, and without the knowledge of the IT department.

Working with the right people and delegating properly

As mentioned above, it is natural for CIOs to have certain strengths and weakness. Therefore, as IT leaders, it must be within your power to surround yourself with people who will complement your strength and boost the areas that you may be weak at. You must be able to work with the right people and learn to scale their talents as well.

Communication skills, of course

It goes without saying that as an IT leader, you must have impeccable communication skills as a fundamental trait. You might be dealing with different kinds of people from different departments. You need to know how to gauge the situation and communicate in the right way. Rubbing people the wrong way can prove to have detrimental effects.

Don’t try to play any part, be your natural self


You might have a great CIO model as your motivator. It could be CN Ram, Winner of Konrad Zuse Medal of Honour; Ex-Group President & CIO at Essar Group or Lalit Sawhney, Ex-SVP (CIO) at Reliance Communication and Ex- Head, Information Systems: Hindustan Unilever Ltd., but always remember to be yourself and not the shadow of anyone you admire.

In closing

Finally, a very important one to top it off – An inclination to invest in the next generation trend
Young CIOs concentrate on making their investments in the next generation trend. For example, business class video is one of the biggest things for the next gen executives. This is because they have realized that video is something every company should invest in. In the same way, every CIO must look into what he should be investing in to improve his business. This investment includes infrastructure, technology, applications, technology and of course, talent.

Interesting links about the topic:
Common traits that shared by top CIO’s
Leadership qualities of successful CIOs


The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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