CIO also means 'chief influence officer'

As part of that influencer role, CIOs must create a culture that will support the company's transformation.

Book with culture written on its spine
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Why you must build a strong culture as a CIO

As the role of technology evolves and becomes ever more prominent in the world of business, the role of the CIO is also evolving. Technology is now largely integrated with virtually every business and brand. While the main focus of a CIO was once to convey IT information within the internal corporate structure, that focus is shifting to adapt to modern-day business culture. The traditional CIO is giving way to the transformational CIO, and with that change comes the new task of creating a resilient culture within the organization. As the CIO of your company, you are now in the unique position of redefining the CIO duties of the past in order to strengthen your organization as a whole.

Your culture is the foundation of your company

A learning culture is vital for most companies. As a CIO, you need to stay ahead of the technological changes and trends that affect your industry; you are faced with the function of educating the top players in your company, so they remain ahead of the same changes and trends. This learning culture will enable your team to be stronger than ever, no matter what challenges come your way.

Why is culture so important for a business? The culture of your organization is what defines it, and it affects the overall strategy your company employs when establishing leadership. Every employee who works for your business should have a very clear vision of your mission. Every decision that your leaders make should reflect the culture that you’ve built. By incorporating your company’s mission with every decision made and action taken, your team is drawing from the strength of its culture. This is what makes a business substantial, as well as a true force to be reckoned with among its competitors.

Essentially, your company’s culture is its foundation. Whether that foundation crumbles or remains unshakable is largely up to its leaders. Your human resources team will need to identify new hires who fit with the vision and culture of your company. When every individual in your company works together to achieve its mission, the result is your company’s culture working at a synchronistic level.

The new characteristics of today’s CIO

As you guide your company through its inevitable and ever-evolving digital transformation, you will also need to embrace a new characteristic necessary to succeed as a modern CIO. Today’s successful CIOs must possess a trait that was not crucial for them in the past: The CIOs of today need to be socially savvy in order to remain relevant to the company structure.

If you believe that a traditional role as CIO will benefit you and your business, you could soon find your position deemed obsolete at your company. Your transformation as a valuable corporate leader means that you will need to become an influencer in terms of business (as opposed to solely an influencer in regard to IT).

You will need to impress internal stakeholders enough to keep them engaged and invested. That means developing strong relationships with those who have influence over your company’s ultimate trajectory. One of your top priorities should be to consistently align your company’s IT culture with its culture as a whole. Your stakeholders want to know that their investment was a solid choice. As the CIO, you will need to know how to relate to such people and how to influence them. If you don’t do this, another leader at your company will, and you may no longer be regarded as a key player for your business.

In addition to devising and employing IT strategies that will benefit your company, you must also demonstrate the ability to convey your organization’s technological vision to others. Both stakeholders and company talent should know why you are choosing one path over another, and they need to trust you to establish that path for your business. By connecting with others in your company, you will build their trust — and in turn, they will grant you the freedom to lead your organization in your capacity as CIO.

Thinking like a CEO

Before you recoil at the notion that you now have more responsibilities than ever, consider this: You now have more room to grow as a CIO. As long as you understand the modern evolution of your position, you should be able to leverage your new job duties and render yourself invaluable to your company.

You lead your business in the technological aspect, but you must also think and behave like an executive. Your job is to show your organization how your IT strategies will lead it to success. In today’s corporate culture, the CIO’s mindset and language are more effective when they resemble those of the CEO. You will need to strike a fine balance between initiating tech strategy and thinking in terms of business execution. When your focus lines up with that of your CEO, you will further the mission of your company.

Building a solid foundation for your organization is crucial to maintaining its vision; that foundation is its culture. In order to keep everyone at your company in alignment, you must forgo the role of traditional CIO and take on the part of a transformational figure. Your job has always been complex — but now you may be more proactive and involved in company strategy than you were previously. No one should expect you to perform the job of a CEO, but you will need to think and act like one to become integral to your company’s culture.

By adopting new ways of implementing your role as CIO, you will become a key factor in the development of your organization’s unique culture. You may find yourself taking on new tasks — such as influencing stakeholders — but the rewards associated with your changing role could be significant. As the CIO of any company today, you have the potential to become a major factor in its success — and that success begins with a strong culture.

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