Put yourself in the shoes of an IT leader for a second. You have to deal with talent shortfall, drive digital transformation initiatives to success, prevent employees from burnout and work related stress and retain your best talent all at the same time.
You have to negotiate with different stakeholders such as vendors and suppliers and take measures to protect your critical business assets from cybersecurity attacks, data breaches and ensure business continuity. With so much on their to-do lists, CIOs usually put leadership development on the backburner. This can slowly but surely negatively impact your career but also your organization as a whole.
So, how do top CIOs deal with these leadership challenges? Let’s find out. In this article, top CIOs share the best leadership advice they have ever received which has completely changed their leadership style.
7 Leadership Advice From Top CIOs
Here are seven leadership advice from top CIOs that will force you to change your leadership style.
Take The Shopping Cart Approach
Rich Gilbert, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Information Officer at Aflac US received this interesting piece of leadership advice. He has met dozens of leaders and has analyzed their leadership traits. According to him, you should only add leadership traits you like in your shopping cart and leave out those that you don’t like.
Compassion, authenticity and transparency are three traits I adopted and that is also reflected in the organization culture at Aflac. Let’s say, you want to migrate from best cloud hosting to cheap dedicated hosting. Ensure transparency in your decisions and provide clarity to employees. Initially, you need to develop a people centric mindset in order to lead teams and that is exactly what Rich Gilbert did early on in his leadership career. You need to show empathy and take care of your team members in order to win their hearts.
You can’t just force your agendas on them without winning them over. Employees will only buy into your vision when they see you care for them and value their opinions. By adopting good leadership traits and leaving out toxic ones, you will eventually become a leader that people would love to follow.
Be The Change
Edward Wagoner, who is the CIO and executive vice president of Digital JLL was inspired by the book “Be the Change” by H James Dallas. In fact, it forced him to embark on a personal and professional journey of leadership transformation.
According to him, you should not wait for other pieces of the puzzle to fall into place and be the change you want to bring. This also enabled him to get over challenges during the pandemic. People look upto their leaders for inspiration and you need to lead by example if you want them to buy in to change you want to bring. For instance, you want to change your VPS server singapore and switch to cheap dedicated server hosting.
Put People First
Instead of diving too deep into nitty gritties, Todd Inlander, Senior Vice President and CIO of Southern California Edison recommends that you should focus more on people. Afterall, it is the people who will do all the work. Avoid trying everything yourself and delegate tasks to your team members.
This will send a clear message that you have faith in your team and want to give them authority to complete certain tasks. Additionally, it will also be beneficial for the career development of their employees as they take on new challenges and roles. The lessons they will learn will help them throughout their professional lives.
Always Keep Learning
Just because you are at the zenith of your career does not mean that you know everything. William Fandrich, Senior Vice President and CIO of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan received this advice from the chairman of the board, “There is not much distance between the bottom and the top. Today, you might be a hero but tomorrow, they could be calling for your job. Never get caught up in highs and lows. Self reflect on whatever you do and be humble.We all can do better and we can always learn.”
Hire Smart People and Let Them Do Their Thing
When hiring new candidates, choose those who are smarter than you. After onboarding them, give them the freedom to showcase their true talent and skills. Avoid micromanaging them and give them the authority they need. Hiring the brightest talent won’t benefit your organziation if you chain them with stringent policies and put them under the command of a bureaucracy that won’t listen or understand their innovative ideas. Trust them and let them lead key initiatives. Provide them the guidance and support they need but don’t interfere too much. The more freedom and authority they have, the more positive outcomes your organization can get.
Challenge The Status Quo
As a leader, your goal should be to create an environment where employees are encouraged to challenge the status quo. It should reward them to experiment with new ideas and share constructive feedback. This will entice them to take on more calculated risks which can lead to innovation.
Businesses need to churn out innovative products in order to stay competitive in the industry. This would only happen if you give employees the freedom to experiment and look beyond existing processes. Sticking to the same old process won’t yield new results. You will have to try different things to see what works and what does not for your organization.
Character and Ethics Does Matter
Executive Vice President and CIO of Vitalant, Anthony Bobos vividly remembers one of the best leadership advice he ever received. A CEO told him to “promote ethics early and often” This changed my whole perspective whether i am dealing with people or making business decisions. Jyoti Lynch, Europeon Wax Center CIO thinks that leadership is a privilege and you should always think of it as delivering a service.
To build a great network, you need to nurture relationships and treat them with respect. Spend time knowing your team members at a personal level and look beyond title and roles. With character and ethics at the heart of your leadership style, you can easily win the trust of your team members. It is the trust and loyalty that drives teams forward.
Which is the best leadership advice you have ever got as an IT leader? Share it with us in the comments section below.