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Why the IT manager is the CIO’s best asset

Regardless of your industry or organisational profile, as a CIO you’re in the business of relationships – with customers, vendors, suppliers, and colleagues. But the most important relationship is with your team, and especially your IT manager.

Traditionally, the CIO was a technical specialist in charge of running the IT organisation, with little involvement with the rest of the business. But with digital disruption, the consumerisation of IT, and the rise of new innovative players, a big shift has occurred in the fundamental perception of the role of IT, and the role the CIO plays in setting and realising business strategy. CIOs are being recognised for the intrinsic business value they can bring, and executives are calling on them to be leaders of organisational change.

In the process, the CIO is becoming more and more removed from machinery, systems, applications, and data, and increasingly involved with the business side of things. But as you look into the future, you need to ensure your team isn’t left behind.

Creating the CIOs of tomorrow

In today’s business environment, where everything is about speed, agility, and innovation, it’s not enough to have a reactive IT manager. You need someone with leadership skills who can work as part of business teams to leverage information and technology to develop new and enhanced products and services that create value for customers, improve profit margins, and drive a competitive advantage. It’s up to you to prepare your IT manager for the role.

While you may know how to speak different professional languages, your IT manager probably doesn’t. CIOs can help IT managers develop these skills by involving them in strategy discussions and encouraging their input. What – and how – you communicate to your IT manager is going to have a flow-on effect to the rest of the team, so it’s important that you value their opinions and listen to their concerns.

Changing the mindset

The problem is, your IT manager is probably stuck in the ‘fighting fires’ mindset, and is running around all day going from one crisis to another. The first step is to contextualise even the smallest decisions to be about organisation’s goals. Step back and look at the big picture and they’ll start to see ideas, people, and projects through fresh eyes – and spot more connections between them.

With a strong understanding of the strategy and a vision, your IT staff will have worthwhile tasks to sink their teeth into and are likely to over-deliver. Ultimately this allows the business to grow both in terms of profit and employee mind share.

There’s no ‘I’ in team

Your IT manager is a resource you should be working with as closely as possible. He or she is leading your team on the frontline, and dealing directly with internal and external customers. This makes them your greatest asset.

If you treat them as such and they will be more productive and engaged, refer other workers to the organisation, and stay longer. Treat them as a liability and they will be less productive and eventually leave, hurting morale as well as the bottom line.

Want to learn how to become a better leader? Download our how-to guide on CIO leadership in the digital age.

Tags IT management, Digital Transformation, CIO Leadership

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