Rob Preston recently wrote about What CIOs Want In Their Successors in Information Week. Rob talked with four CIOs in the U.S. about the attributes they're looking for in a successor. First, they want multidimensional leaders. This makes sense as the IT scene is getting increasingly complex with a number of transformative trends such as consumerization, the cloud, and mobile.
Dave Bent, CIO of United Stationers was quoted, "They may be brilliant technologists, but without the business engagement and leadership skills, they will not make it to the higher level." I would agree that it is increasingly hard to make it on tech skills alone.
Even within tech skills, you cannot be a specialist. Another CIO, Jerry Johnson, CIO of Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, emphasized the breadth of IT experience required: software development, infrastructure, operations, architecture, and project management. This implies that future CIOs need to move around their department and gather a variety of skills and perspectives.
Customer skills are particularly important for CIOs at technology companies, where the CIO is often asked to speak on the products use within the company. IBM is a big believer in testing inside first, then releasing a product to the public. Of course, not ever tech firm has over 300,000 enterprise users to serve as a means to test and refine products.
This need to speak to customers can extend beyond the tech sphere. For example, Rob writes about Kent Kushar, CIO of E. & J. Gallo Winery, who is comfortable at wine-tasting events discussing vintages and palate taste zones. Not a bad job to have.
Future CIOs also need to be team players. Then need to be able to stand up as peers to others in the C-suite and be respected for their leadership skills. They also need have brought home a number of projects successfully. In addition, they need to be self-starters and be willing to take a stand on an issue even it is counter to the prevailing views.I would add that CIOs need to understand the rising ability of the business units to go around IT if they cannot get their needs met. They need to serve as a leader but not a dictator or they will lose quickly. They also need to understand the power of social busines