Are the leadership skills you have, the leadership skills you need? Attendees at recent Gartner CIO Forum workshops in US and Europe explored this question and the answer was far from affirmative. A somewhat uncomfortable finding, particularly given the rapid ascent of the digital enterprise. Leadership shifts indentified in the workshops included. ‘Command and control’ to ‘enable and empower’. An internal focus on efficiency to an external obsession with the customer. Top-down rigidity to bottom-up creativity. Requirements driven problem solving to rapid prototyping and ‘dilemma flipping’.
While as one CIO observed “we have been talking about these types of changes for 30 years” the sentiment in the workshops was that we are facing a genuine tipping point. For if CIOs do not make the needed leadership shifts there is the real danger, indeed irony, that the immense opportunities to be derived from digital macro trends will disintermediate the traditional IT role itself!
However as also keenly noted during the workshops, CIOs who can master these leadership skills to drive digitally enabled business outcomes will be in huge demand. Indeed often rewarded with additional business responsibilities including the emerging Chief Digital Officer (CDO) role. These themes were echoed during a panel of Executive Search Firm leaders who commented on the scarcity of needed talent and an emerging premium being placed on candidates who combine strong leadership skills with digital business experience. As I have said previously, there has never been a better time to be a CIO, at least one with the ‘right stuff’!