Grooming future IT leaders | CIO


As I discussed in “How to select a leader,” leadership in the digital age is a necessity. But how can CIOs groom and grow leaders that are able to break through the all-too-common silo thinking and enable tangible business change?

Identify leadership potential early

As I’ve learned through moderating countless #CIOChat sessions, CIOs believe that IT leaders are needed with awareness and understanding of the broader context of their business environments. This includes a willingness to listen and incorporate ideas from others into their own viewpoints. Leadership, clearly, has many characteristics. However, CIOs say they are looking for people that take initiative, are not afraid of new challenges, and most importantly, don’t blame others.

For this reason, CIOs need to create systems that reward the right behaviors. Situational awareness is key especially in the technology space. Are you optimizing? Being disrupted? Undertaking digital transformation? Each require a different skill sets.

Most importantly, people are needed that can learn, unlearn, and relearn. I like to tell my students as much as they want to get done with their degree that they need to be “lifelong learners” to stay relevant in the digital era. IT leaders should look for people who are continuous learners and are always looking to improve processes. CIOs, for this reason, need to identify opportunities that allow their team to show themselves early in career, not just technically, but through communication and collaboration opportunities with business units.

Managing a career needs to be a two-way street

A potential leader must be interested in their career and go for it from their side as well. It’s their career and they need to own success as much as the people helping them along. If they’re already in the work force, then it’s all about what they fight for and what they fight against. Future leaders need an open mind. They need listening ability. And they need lots of “soft” skills.

IT leaders need to be looking for those who are keen to learn, take on responsibility, and have an inquiring mind. In general, future IT leaders need skill at listening, communicating, encouraging, supporting, and motivating. CIOs need to make time to coach future leaders.





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