A\u00a0recent study\u00a0on the future of leadership highlights some significant leadership gaps that are hampering organizations\u2019 ability to transform and succeed in the digital economy. The survey of 4,394 global leaders found that just 12% of executives believe their leaders have the right mindsets to lead them, and only 40% agree that their companies are building a robust leadership pipeline to tackle the demands of the digital economy.\nMaking matters worse, as they scramble to develop the talent on their bench, most companies are relying on an outdated leadership playbook. As disruption hits every facet of the business, forward-thinking CIOs like these are looking at how to reimagine that playbook through programs to nurture and strengthen their pipeline of future-ready leaders.\n[ Related reading: 10 IT leadership development programs to help you level up\u00a0]\nRecently, five of the top CIOs in their respective industries joined me on two leadership panels to share their leadership philosophies, insights, and stories, along with words of advice and encouragement for up-and-coming IT leaders.\nHere are a few of the central themes that came out of these discussions.\nIT\u2019s rising stars are relationship builders\nThe overarching message these CIOs have for the next generation is this: What got you here won\u2019t get you there. Being a successful tech leader, especially in this turbulent, disruptive environment, means you\u2019re constantly learning. It means challenging the status quo, picking yourself up when you fall down, and learning from those mistakes as you take on the next challenge. It\u2019s both a mindset and a skillset.\nThese attributes were especially apparent in the way the panelists described what differentiates today\u2019s hi-pos from the rest. Deborah Gash, SVP and chief digital officer of Saint Luke\u2019s Health System, says she can always spot those up-and-coming leaders who are going places, because they\u2019re the ones taking ownership of problems and making sure the issues get resolved.\u00a0\n Deborah Gash\n\u201cThey engage the right people to make that happen and that demonstrates leadership to me,\u201d she says. \u201cAnd then, I think, too, that they have courage. They\u2019re not afraid to challenge the status quo or to raise a problem." \u00a0She emphasizes that taking ownership isn\u2019t the same thing as going it alone, which is why relationship-building and interpersonal skills are critical. It\u2019s a point all of the panelists came back to at various times during the discussions.\u00a0\n\u201cEveryone knows that being dependent is a bad thing, but I think some people also get the idea that pure independence is the right way to go,\u201d\u00a0says Rich Miller, VP of IT at Burns & McDonnell.\u00a0\u201cIt just doesn\u2019t work that way in the profession that we\u2019ve all chosen. You have to rely on others, and you have to build relationships. You have to not only ask for coaching but accept that coaching. People who really embrace interdependence tend to progress very well through their careers.\u201d\nJust how important is interdependence to the work of IT? When describing H&R Block\u2019s success in pivoting during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, CIO Alan Lowden credited not so much the technical factors and infrastructure they\u2019d put in place but the team building work they\u2019d done.\n Alan Lowden\n\u201cIn times of crisis, you need to think slow and act fast.\u00a0 A leadership team must operate as a cohesive unit, carefully evaluating options while acting with deliberate speed," he says. "After debating options and charting a course, the team needs to speak with one voice \u2014 internally and externally. Any small cracks in the team can break it when the pressure of crisis is applied.\u201d\nAgents of change\nTransformation is the name of the game in IT. If you can\u2019t deal with change, you\u2019re probably not in the right job. This is why change is one of the traits I have consistently found in the most successful technology leaders who are laser focused on the \u201c7 Cs,\u201d along with customer-centricity, culture, cultivate, courage, collaboration, and communication. But it\u2019s not enough to be able to deal with change and accept it: IT leaders also have to be change agents and drive it. This requires a different level of skill and, often, a shift in mindset as well.\u00a0\nLiking change isn't required, but embracing it is. As Dana Lorberg, EVP, Mastercard puts it, \u201cchange happens but most don\u2019t like it. Today only the adaptable survive."\n Dana Lorberg\nLowden embraces the power of the struggle, explaining, \u201cWe can\u2019t transform our businesses without being agents for change.\u00a0 Leaders should embrace bold thinking which requires taking calculated risks. Uncertainty and doubt often creep in.\u00a0 This is when we should lean into our own vulnerability and commit to leading change.\u00a0 It is important to deeply explore the challenges before us and constantly learn the lessons that come with the struggle to overcome them. I think this mindset is a critical element of leadership,\u201d he says. \u201cIt leads to a lifetime of learning and continuous improvement, which unlocks endless possibilities.\u201d\nIn other words, you have to be willing to put yourself out there, and that\u2019s not always easy. For starters, you aren\u2019t always going to succeed. Many of the challenges we\u2019re now facing, and that the next generation of CIOs will be facing in the future, have no precedent. There are no textbooks that can definitively tell you what to do.\nAdopting an anticipatory mindset\nWith change and disruption always on the horizon, tech leaders have to not just be focused on today\u2019s challenges but also proactively anticipating opportunities and speedbumps ahead.\nOne of the biggest disruptions to hit an industry that\u2019s been disrupted over and over again in recent years is, of course, the pandemic. While most organizations were caught off guard, some CIOs, like Miller, had their eyes and ears tuned to what might be coming.\n Rich Millerl\nThat strategic, anticipatory mindset serves technology leaders well, particularly in times of crisis. Because Miller was sounding the alarm within his IT organization in early February, they were able to get a jump on the massive changes the pandemic would usher in.\nOf course, being proactive also requires putting yourself out there. As Miller points out, things were humming along, business as usual at that time. No one was really talking about the pandemic. It took a lot of inner courage to broach the topic and get the gears in the motion. The IT leadership team might have looked at him like he was a little crazy, but the decision to be what he calls a \u201cfearless forecaster\u201d certainly paid off.\nLowden also found that this kind of anticipatory mindset helped his organization navigate through the initial days and months of the pandemic. It was fueled in large part by the leadership team\u2019s deliberate focus on building alignment and strengthening core skills.\n[ Related reading: The new core competencies IT must master\u00a0]\n\u201cLong before COVID hit, we took the time to invest in ourselves as a senior leadership team,\u201d he shares. \u201cWe spent countless hours together, aligning our leadership philosophies on cultural values, laying out key behaviors that are needed to drive transformation, and making it part of our strategic framework. These are the \u2018soft\u2019 things that some people may not focus on as much as execution plans. But I believe they are critical to achieving ambitious goals.\u201d\nReflecting on his latest lessons from leading in a crisis, Joplin coached the graduates to \u201cconnect first and then lead. Realize that communication is not about one size fits all, especially in a virtual environment. We\u2019ve lost the ability to have the 5-minute \u2018drive by\u2019 meeting, so even the mechanisms for how we collect information has changed.\u201d\n Jon Joplin,\nWhat\u2019s notable is that the CIOs don\u2019t just have a seat at the table; they\u2019re leading the charge, helping shape and transform current and future business models to drive significant business value. The lesson for up-and-coming IT leaders is clear: The technical skills that got you here aren\u2019t enough to succeed at the senior level.\u00a0Core skills\u00a0are essential for leading and managing through high stakes change. What\u2019s more, your ability to look out on the horizon and anticipate what\u2019s coming will only become more important, not just to the IT organization but to the business as a whole.\u00a0\nBe curious \u2026 even about your own mistakes\nIf what got you here won\u2019t get you there, then what\u2019s the path forward? Across the 7 Cs of great leaders, there\u2019s one more C that serves as a kind of driving force: curiosity. As I listened to the executives on these panels, that sense of curiosity \u2014 of always looking for new ideas and continually learning \u2014 bubbled up throughout the discussion.\u00a0\nJoplin, who owns several patents, points out that, \u201cYou need to be curious enough. You need to be open enough. Don\u2019t allow yourself to get too comfortable. Take the lateral moves, and be a lifetime learner.\u201d\nAn \u201cinsatiable curiosity and the need to ask why why why\u201d will differentiate you from the pack, adds Lorberg. And it also helps, she says, to \u201chang out with smart people.\u201d\u00a0\nAs Lowden points out, learning doesn't need to be formal, but it does need to be deliberate. \u00a0\u201cWhen it comes to customer-centricity, it\u2019s important to draw inspiration from best-in-class experiences across a range of industries," Lowdon says.\u00a0 "This is especially true for a company like H&R Block, who has few direct competitors.\u00a0 We encourage people to embrace curiosity and look out the window, exploring widely as they design great digital experiences for our customers.\u201d\nGash, too, likes to look outside the industry for ideas her team can apply to the challenges of healthcare. \u201cBringing those lessons learned from other industries to our organization and talking about how that might transform how we deliver health care and provide a more convenient, frictionless experience in the health system is really important,\u201d she says.\nAnd, she advises, sometimes the best lessons come from our own mistakes \u2026 if we're wise enough to learn from them. "What happened, how did you make a mistake and what would you do differently? And then, lastly, try not to repeat the same mistake over and over again.\u201d\nMiller shared one such learning experience \u2014 a two a.m. \u201cgo fever\u201d mistake he made as a 25-year-old leader, and the fallout that followed. Facing the music wasn\u2019t easy. As he put it, \u201cIt was a coaching moment. I didn\u2019t ask for the coaching, but they gave it to me.\u201d Nevertheless, he says, \u201cIt was a very valuable lesson that I learned very early in my career, which was, you know, guard against that go fever. It was absolutely the wrong decision on my part to lead that team to keep trying to push through.\u201d\u00a0\nA new playbook\nAs disruption hits every facet of the business, forward-thinking CIOs like these are writing a new leadership playbook and finding new ways\u00a0to\u00a0nurture and strengthen their pipeline of future-ready leaders.\nWhether you\u2019re a technology executive or an aspiring IT leader, my advice is to follow their advice: Focus\u00a0your development around the\u00a07 Cs\u00a0of\u00a0change,\u00a0collaboration,\u00a0communication,\u00a0courage,\u00a0culture, cultivate,\u00a0and\u00a0customer-centricity.\u00a0Add\u00a0in\u00a0a heavy dose of curiosity to the mix, and\u00a0you and your team will be positioned for success in this digital economy.\n\nMore on the CIO role today:\n\n CIO resumes: 6 best practices and 4 strong examples \n How successful IT leaders take charge from day one \n CIO succession planning in the digital age \n From CIO to CEO: 8 tips for taking your career to the top \n 8 CIO archetypes: What kind of IT leader are you?