5 information technology leadership traits critical for the CIO

A CIO should not only be abreast of technology and business needs, but also possess information technology leadership skills. So what should he work on?

With the experience that a CIO gathers, he covers almost all business processes, and is able to provide solutions by the virtue of that. However, his duty does not stop at that. It encompasses information technology leadership as well as steering and guiding the course of his team in order to develop its potential.

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 1) Project management and team building: Since most IT projects are prone to cost overrun and overshooting timelines, it is imperative that CIOs provide information technology leadership at all stages. When it comes to building an efficient IT leadership hierarchy, the CIO must build a strong second line of qualified project managers to ensure that projects are planned and executed well in time. While assuming business ownership, he should allow business owners to own the projects. As counselor, a CIO should unveil the strengths of the team.

According to Pratap Gharge, the vice president and CIO of Bajaj Electricals Ltd, "Efficient information technology leadership requires that the CIO is an example for his team. He must take his team along with him through IT implementations and strategies."

2) Business vision to empower IT alignment: In order to provideinformation technology leadership, a CIO should know the challenges of the business and apply the right technology solution. As RN Moorthy, the senior general manager of IT at Jet Airways says, "A CIO needs to be more business-centric, rather than technology-oriented. He should be able to convince C-level executives on any technology investments."

Gharge illustrates this IT leadership aspect with an example. "We have six business units who translate and present the CEO's vision after a series of meetings. The IT planning meet is conducted once in three years. This gives me a platform to align IT with the business visions and charter work accordingly."

3) Technology knowledge and vendor management: The CIO should be abreast with technology changes and its impact on the business if he has to provideeffective IT leadership. Moorthy says," The CIO should develop relationships with other information technology leaders and key vendors. He is responsible for educating his team on the latest trends in technology and its risk of obsolescence." Defining the expectations of vendors is the key to controlling such relationships. To this, end Gharge suggests that the CIO constantly makes a business case for new initiatives in his organization which highlights the associated benefits.

A CIO must conduct research in order to be updated with new technologies on various new products. Proper information technology leadership involves sound technical experience, which should exhibit itself with an ability to translate and converse freely with the technical team.

4) Be cost conscious: Having this goal in view can help a CIO while justifying the importance of an investment to the CFO. Information technology leadership requires vision and gaining the IT team's confidence while tapping resources and during resolution of issues. Gharge believes, "A promising presentation that plays positively on the faculty's strengths is a good way to gain the CFO's approval." On this front, the CIO must build a flexible IT infrastructure and applications so that costs of IT services can be controlled based on business demand.

5) Delegation of work: Optimal delegation of tasks is a crucial skill for information technology leadership. A CIO needs to align the right task to the right person with the right capacity. Launching several plans which can increase cross-skilling will help ease monotony. Keep stakeholders in the loop, since CIO should make them feel accountable for their actions.

Developing successful information technology leadership skills does not end with the above-mentioned qualities. Time management and being organized will help the CIO and his team in meeting deadlines. It also helps people achieve targets within the budget and allotted time.

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