Book Review: The CIO Edge

7 leadership skills that CIOs need to drive results.

by / December 17, 2010

With recent shifts in the political landscape and several newly appointed CIOs entering the scene, many of these CIOs will seek best practices or a handy reference book to help deliver on IT promises. Those already thinking about the work ahead should read The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results, which says soft skills yield hard results.

The book, based on three years of observation and data-driven research from Gartner, offers seven leadership skills CIOs must master if they want to be successful. To leave a lasting legacy, the authors say CIOs must attain the “CIO edge,” the components of which are outlined in the book’s first seven chapters:

  • Commit to leadership first — everything else is second. The highest-performing CIOs are effective because they embrace the notion that delivering results must be done through, by and with people.
  • Lead differently than you think. As a technology leader, you can’t be the mastermind taking on every problem regardless of how smart or tech-savvy you are — it’s imperative to think analytically while acting collaboratively.
  • Embrace your softer side. Forge relationships with colleagues and stakeholders by being open, receptive and caring, and relating to them. “While everyone understands why people skills are vital, the best CIOs raise those skills to another level … [they] tap into deeply rooted, human emotional drivers to unleash the incredibly powerful force of energized people.”
  • Forge the right relationships, drive the right results. CIOs who spend a significant amount of time managing internal and external relationships get the most leverage out of them.
  • Master communications — always and all ways. The key to being an effective communicator is listening not only to obtain information, but also to ensure your message is being received. High-performing CIOs are constantly communicating, so they consistently monitor to ensure they’re in sync with their audience.
  • Inspire others. CIOs can’t lead if others won’t follow; therefore, CIOs must have a vision, and they need to inspire others to believe in that vision so they can take action.
  • Build people, not systems. The best CIOs are passionate about investing in people development because it increases their ability to promote change and expands their sphere of influence. These CIOs also focus on self-improvement so they can become better leaders.

The end of each chapter features a summary, as well as a call to action, which prompts readers to conduct a self-evaluation designed to help them spot and alter crippling behaviors.

The last two chapters of The CIO Edge delve into the professional and personal payoffs from implementing the seven leadership skills. These include being a collaborative leader who delivers on technology promises and leaving a lasting legacy by contributing to others’ success.

So if you’re wondering what your legacy will be or how to shape it in the present, then The CIO Edge will assist you on your quest with practical case studies and easy, applicable steps to deliver results.


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