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Gain Influence in the C-Suite by Fulfilling 2 Essential Unaddressed Needs of the CEO

By Daniel Sanchez Reina | April 06, 2021 | 0 Comments

Board and C-Suite SupportCIO Leadership, Culture and PeopleCIO Role EvolutionCurrent and Future LeadershipWorking with the CEO/Board/C-Suite

Most CIOs perceive they have increased their influence among the C-suite during the pandemic, but that status won’t necessarily remain: they were needed to survive and thrive, so their influence might fade away once the pandemic goes away. To sustain influence, CIOs can address two workforce-related CEO priorities that don’t yet have a clear CxO owner.

 

It is difficult to gain influence by simply doing what you are expected to do. CIOs can take advantage of two yet-unaddressed CEO needs that do not have a clear owner in the C-suite: 

  1. CEOs want to build digital competencies throughout the organization. Digital is no longer just an IT remit. The most frequent topic CEOs talk about with the CFO, COO, chief strategy officer, chief sales officer and chief marketing officer is digital. The second most frequent topic is the functional area of each one. However, their digital savviness is low, on average. Since their digital mindset is minimal, they aren’t likely to come up with digital ideas nor inspire their team members to come up with digital ideas.

  2. Generational issues are the second most mentioned change CEOs will have to face over the next three years. They are concerned about an increasingly aging workforce with a scarce digital mindset and about the integration of younger generations.

CIOs who deliver solutions for these 2 needs will consolidate and sustain the influence they gained during the pandemic. So do not wait for someone else to take control. Just take the reins.

Enhance the Digital Mindset in the C-Suite

According to the 2020 Gartner CEO Survey, the top three areas where investment increased the most in 2020 compared with 2019 are:

  • Digital capabilities (82% increase)

  • Information technology (78% increase)

  • People and culture (70% increase)

The first two are interconnected. Digital capabilities are a mix of things: digital business capabilities, digital dexterity and digitally oriented people. Information technology covers the spectrum of business, IT and people. Information technology is one of the means to acquire those digital capabilities.

But why does the CEO want to invest in people and culture? Because they are connected to the other two. CEOs are frustrated because they don’t have the proper mindset (culture) in the C-suite to devise digital initiatives and be successful with them.

As enterprises become increasingly digital that performance gap will only grow. Organizations with the strongest digital leadership capabilities are financially outperforming those with the weakest capabilities by 50%.

Nurture a digital mindset in the C-suite by employing three techniques:

1/ Educate them, from a bird’s eye view, on the basics of game-changing technologies like AI or Data & Analytics.

2/ Clarify the digital direction of your enterprise along with them.

3/ Help them in honing the digital responsibilities the C-Suite must have to achieve the digital maturity your business needs.

For detailed information on how to develop these three techniques, read the research document “Gain Influence in the C-Suite by Fulfilling 2 Essential Unaddressed Needs of the CEO” (Gartner suscription required), written with my colleague Roger Caleya.

Facilitate the Generational Shift

Generational issues represent one of the most mentioned changes in the workforce that enterprises will face over the next three years, according to the 2020 Gartner CEO Survey. The two most significant generational issues are:

  • An aging workforce. This issue is not only about retirements, but also about a scarce digital mindset, on average, among the most mature generations (baby boomers and Gen X). Digital knowledge needs to be transferred among generations.

  • The integration of new generations. The youngest generations (millenials and Gen Z) are much more demanding of their enterprise’s culture, leadership and digital workplace. Creating an environment appealing to them is paramount for true integration with the company culture and the older generations.

Apply the Multigenerational Power Framework to position all generations in the upper portion of the “flow channel” — the position where people feel more productive and self-realized (see figure below). You can start with your own department, and then export it to the rest of the enterprise. In this framework, “skills” refers to the ability to nurture healthy intergenerational relationships. “Challenges” refers to the exposure to interacting with multigenerational teams.

Flow diagram of the Multigenerational Power Framework.

In each of those four legs, make use of the proven sociological differences between generations. Although every single person is different, from a statistical perspective each generation shares some common traits. Of course, all generations want to be happy, have a full personal and professional life, pursue their dreams, earn good money to live on and so on. What differentiates them is the “how.” That is what you must utilize.

This figure below shows the main generational differences at the workplace:

For detailed information on how to apply these generational differences in each step of the Multigenerational Power Framework, read “Gain Influence in the C-Suite by Fulfilling 2 Essential Unaddressed Needs of the CEO” (Gartner suscription required), written with my colleague Roger Caleya.

 

May wisdom and courage be with you.

Daniel Sanchez-Reina

 

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— I will be looking forward to talking to you. Feel free to schedule an inquiry call (inquiry@gartner.com), follow me on Twitter (@DanielSnchezRna) or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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