CIO: Chief ‘Influence’ Officer

CIO: Chief ‘Influence’ Officer

Posted by James Sills onin Leadership/Management

There are many words that convey the “I” in CIO. For Strategic CIOs, we normally see the following “I” words:  Information, Innovation, Integration, Intelligence, and Infrastructure.

In my view, we need to add one more word: Influence

While it’s unclear who coined the term Chief Influence Officer, it’s never been more appropriate than in today’s digital landscape with its myriad of ever changing technologies. Never before have CIOs had to manage so many devices, apps, and hardware, along with a workforce that’s becoming every bit as diverse as the technology.

A new study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) states three leadership roles exist: transformational, transactional and network. Only 7.3 percent of leaders display strengths in all three areas. The most common is transactional, centered on goals/objectives, performance monitoring and distribution of rewards. As the nature of the workforce changes along with the nature of the work, clients and employees want more flexible, more mobile-based infrastructure and applications.

This is going to change what is being done, how it is being done and by whom. Today’s CIO needs to embrace the best qualities of transformational and network leadership. It’s crucial that we arm our organizations with solid technical skills but more importantly, create collaborative and strategic approaches to aligning our workforce. Setting direction and then inspiring others to foster change is the hallmark of the transformational CIO according the CEB study.

The Network Leadership CIO values forming both traditional and non-traditional strategic relationships. Successful organizations adroitly work with clients and vendors but often stop here. Top performing organizations cultivate relationships beyond these, tapping into the wealth of information readily available through universities, trade associations and governments at all levels. In Delaware, we’re creating lasting and reciprocal relationships through such varied programs such as DigiGirlz, Cyber Aces, Cyber Challenge Camps, Innovation Labs, and Executive/Leadership Roundtables.

In the end, it falls to us to be true Influence Officers. We need to focus our leadership influence on agility and collaboration, exposing our teams to more networking opportunities. As we change from controlling to inspiring, we need CIO leaders to think more broadly and engage with entities and partnerships outside their comfort zone. CIOs need to encourage their direct reports to be influencers too. This makes us more adaptable to meeting the challenges of the digital.

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James H. Sills

James H. Sills, Cabinet Secretary and Chief Information Officer, State of Delaware

James H. Sills, III has over 28 years of Banking and Technology Management experience. Mr. Sills received a BA from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and MPA from the University of Pittsburgh and is also a graduate of the University Of Wisc... More   View all posts
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