CIO Delusions of Leadership

Leadership, Random
Pradco published a whitepaper entitled “What it takes to be a CIO” in September 2009, and I just ran across it. It is striking in several ways. First, I have to mention that Pradco is an assessment company that works a lot in the IT space – this is their bread and butter work. Second, this information is based on an ad hoc survey of 36 CIOs at a March 2009 IT Leaders Conference. So the data is not statistically significant, but the tone of the self-report data is interesting.
 
The CIOs acknowledged that managerial skills are important and 69% of them said that was a key factor for themselves in getting hired. 77% of the CIOs further believe that their leadership skills are as well developed as their technical skills. They are quite confident in themselves and 90% of them are satisfied with their own performance. This is striking, because CIOs have notoriously short tenures (average about 6 years) and one in four gets let go for poor performance. I guess for these survey respondants, those statistics apply to the other guys.
Some of the CIO self-confidence is necessary to perform in a C-level job. There is some interesting research that shows that many C-level executives demonstrate clinically significant levels of narcissism. But that is a topic for another day.
Overall this whitepaper is short on meaningful conclusions, but I took away two things. One is the fact that CIOs recognize the importance of leadership skills. This is promising – they should start expecting leadership from themselves and direct reports. Technical skills alone are not enough. Second is that the group of CIOs lacks self-awareness about their own skills as leaders. If they were all as good as they claim, then IT groups across the country would be functioning flawlessly. Personal insight and awareness is an important factor in career development. I encourage you to look at your own strengths and opportunities more critically. You have to admit to your opportunities, before you can improve on them.

 

 

 

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