What makes a good CIO great?

Good question, tough answer.  Jim Collins provides ideas regarding the differences between good and great.  He discussed them at these years Gartner Symposium CIO Program in Orlando.  Collins, the best selling business author and advisor, has studied the differences between good and great companies and leaders for more than twenty years.  His books Build to Last, Good to Great and How the Might Fall shape executive thinking about themselves and their company.

Collins work is a place to start in answering this question.  Collins in fact invited CIOs to assess their leadership skills and get materials from his web site http://www.jimcollins.com.  There you will see the characteristics of Level – 5 leadership which are essential to any executive and probably more so for the CIO.

No one can know if a CIO has gone from good to great without working with him or her in depth and seeing their track record.  All of us are great for time-to-time, but sustained greatness is something different.  Building on those thoughts here are a few others more around signs that are indicative that a CIO might be great in no particular order:

Great CIOs have great teams.  This is often the last thing mentioned in lists comparing good to great, but it should be the first thing.

Great CIOs are business leaders and see business results. How you introduce yourself says much about your focus and self-identity.

Great CIOs understand IT’s leverage points in their business model. They describe their company in terms of its fundamentals, the things that drive earnings per share, market success and customer choice.

Great CIOs communicate clearly. They take complex issues and speak about them without over simplification.

Great CIOs ask good questions. They recognize that they do not have all the answers and that every answer or plan can be strengthened with good questions.

Good CIOs have many of these same characteristics, but there is something different about the ones who are great.

Greatness in a CIO is not a function of the company they work for, the salary they earn, the size of their title or other factors.  There are great CIOs at small companies and not so great CIOs at big companies.

The points raised above require some additional explanation and therefore the subject of additional blog posts.  However, to get the conversation started.  What else makes a great CIO?

Source: Gartner.com

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