Leadership on Point

How Many Hats Does a CIO Need to Wear?

Technology leaders earn their keep when they help their organizations use technology as a competitive advantage. Success is no longer measured just in availability, speed and uptime: one must now add resiliency, security, scalability, affordability and, most of all, the flexibility to meet business needs that have yet to be defined. These leaders must understand differentiators in their businesses; they need to know real capabilities in the IT marketplace as well as the best providers of those capabilities; and they need to know how to staff and manage high-performing teams who can assure consistent and reliable delivery of those services. They need to be:

  • Technology specialists who know and understand what is real and what is hype
  • Authorities in security, protecting the information that drives the company as well as meeting regulatory compliance
  • Team leaders able to attract, manage and retain a team of highly skilled technical professionals
  • Salespersons, working with peers within an organization to create and sell the business cases that prove the investment in technology is the best use of a company’s money
  • Service brokers with the ability to source both commodity services and the business differentiators from providers both internal and across the globe.

No single university discipline, certification or job prepares individuals for what they need to be the best IT leaders for their organizations. There is no single source that can teach IT leaders to comfortably wear all the necessary hats at the same time.

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The CIO/CTO who is able to combine the best of these skills into a into a single leadership role becomes a much more valuable asset to the organization in their ability to not only create a technology strategy for their organization, but, more importantly, execute that strategy in a timely and cost efficient manner.

A client once came to us with a concern that they weren’t getting the value out of their IT investments. They built a portfolio of projects around a strategy that they felt was in alignment with company direction. The IT leadership team worked hard to make sure they bought the right products for their organization, provided time to execute projects in recognition of dependencies, assigned the most skilled engineers for each task and even secured the funding they requested, but somehow, the return wasn’t there.

A Strategy Implementation / Tech Leadership coach helped them to recognize gaps in both the operational and leadership capabilities that impacted their organization. He helped them to understand that, without a highly functioning leadership to provide governance, stakeholder buy-in and ongoing alignment of IT with the objectives of the organization, optimum returns could never be realized. He then worked with them to develop and refine the competencies necessary to close these gaps and deliver to their organization the value expected from technology investments.

This represents one of the types of challenges that many organizations face. Richard Levin and Associates is proud to announce the arrival of Technology Leadership Coach Joe Wolke, who will work to raise the bar for IT leaders and enable them to wear all of their hats, in balance, at once.