Everyone\u2019s talking about what the CIO role may look like in the future. But when dealing with the here and now, what makes an individual CIO a genuine business leader?\nAnd are there signs that maybe you're still just seen as the 'IT guy' and not a peer of the other c-levels? Are you not getting any love from the board? Are you going to lunch too often? Have you got a screwdriver on your desk?\nAccording to former chair of the CIO Executive Council's Advisory Board, Peter Nevin, and CIO Executive Council Pathways Advanced training partner, Rob Livingstone, there are some warning signs that you may not be acting like a true IT leader despite what it may say on your business card.\n1. You\u2019re being told to cut the IT budget.\n\u201cYou should be determining what part of your budget is cut,\u201d says Peter Nevin, CIO at fertility organisation, Genea.\n\u201cYou should know the business, have a barometer across it and know what\u2019s going on.\u201d\nNevin recalls a time at a previous employer where he volunteered an IT budget cut to help the organisation recover from financial difficulty. He was part of the organisation\u2019s executive team, which enabled him to more easily work closely with other senior executives to find a solution.\n\u201cIn that particular case, we knew we were going to have two or three lean years and at the end of that, we were going to have a massive upswing so we started to sweat assets, which we could do quite easily because we knew things were going to swing back again later.\n\u201cIt\u2019s about working in with what the business is doing rather than having it imposed on you,\u201d Nevin says.\nRelated: Finding the future-state CIO. \n2. You\u2019re not influencing others.\nThere is a subtle art of helping influential others realise how their decisions affect the business.\nA CIO may need to explain the consequences of a lack of IT resources on the security and availability of core business systems to other c-level staff so they might reconsider it.\n\u201cSteering the conversation about [the impact on the] business is key,\u201d Livingstone says.\nHe adds that not helping other executives realise the potential value of information to their businesses is also a no-no.\n\u201cThis could be small or big data; you essentially need to have the conversation [with other c-level execs] to help the organisation see itself in a broader context,\u201d says Livingstone.\n\u201cCIOs are well placed [to contribute to this conversation] because they have a broad perspective of the functions of an organisation.\n\u201cThey are not limited to a particular vertical or silo; they have a horizontal perspective across the entire organisation and can see something of value in a particular part of the business where the individual function or executives may not have that same perspective,\u201d he says.\n3. You\u2019re not communicating properly with non-technical people.\nExplaining the complexity of IT to non-technical staff is a skill that many technologists simply do not have.\nCIOs that are engaging extensively with non-technical folk within the business are better placed to understand the potential context and value of technology, says Livingstone.\n\u201cIf a big data exercise is being done in an organisation and the CIO is only really discussing and exploring issues with data practitioners and vendors \u2013 evangelists that don\u2019t understand the subtleties of the business and the industry they are working in \u2013 they [CIOs] might be limiting their potential.\u201d\n4. You don\u2019t know your company\u2019s customers.\n\u201cIf you look at any successful CIOs on boards, they will talk about their organisation and what it delivers \u2013 they will be passionate and know details about it,\u201d says Nevin.\nHe adds that knowing this information completely changes the way you look at systems and how you can achieve outcomes for your organisation.\nFurther, being able to contribute to the discussion and provide useful information if, for instance, your organisation mergers with another, is vital, he says.\n5. You\u2019re not applying innovation.\nLast but definitely not least, it\u2019s great to be innovative but not if you are not applying it correctly to your organisation.\n\u201cI think most IT people that come to the table are outrageously innovative \u2013 they\u2019ll be thinking about leading edge technologies,\u201d Nevin says.\nBut what\u2019s important is the practical application of that innovation as part of the decision-making process, he says.\n\u201cIt\u2019s about finding solutions for problems as opposed to finding ways to use things. I\u2019ve seen that happen in a few organisations that have deployed incredibly complex technology for problems that could have been solved more simply,\u201d says Nevin.\nDo you agree or disagree? Are there other, more important signs that we have missed? Byron Connolly can be contacted at email@example.com or leave a comment below.