The CIO role continues to evolve, changing as dramatically as the technology it manages and maintains.\n\nMoreover, the pace of the chief IT position\u2019s transformation seems to be accelerating \u2014 likewise mirroring the speed of change in the tech stack.\n\nConsequently, tech executives must lead, manage, and work differently than they did in the past. How so? Veteran CIOs, researchers, and advisors share the changes they\u2019re seeing, offering a look at the new rules of IT leadership and the old ones they\u2019ve replaced.\n\nOld rule: Command and control\n\nNew rule: Facilitate\n\nThe command-and-control leadership style had been on its way out for all executives for years, before rebounding during the early days of the pandemic. At that point the take-charge-and-give-the-orders approach was exactly what organizations needed to get through the worldwide disruption.\n\nNow that the crisis has subsided, that old-school management style has once again receded.\n\n\u201cPeople want a level of autonomy to direct their daily lives and to figure out how to manage their own jobs to meet expectations,\u201d says Mark Taylor, CEO of the Society for Information Management (SIM), a professional association for CIOs and IT leaders.\n\nThat shapes how CIOs need to manage and lead.\n\nAs Chris Nardecchia, chief information and digital officer at Rockwell Automation, says: \u201cCIOs would once come with the answers; now you\u2019re coming with questions.\u201d\n\nNardecchia says he and other CIOs today are working as facilitators focused on bringing the right people together to work on problems, tasking them to devise the best solutions rather than dictating the presumed solutions to them.\n\nAs such, CIOs need to facilitate and empower in big and small ways if they want their teams to succeed, Nardecchia says. As an example, he points to how he and other managers run meetings these days. He uses various strategies and even digital tools to make sure the dominant personalities aren\u2019t the only ones that speak in meetings and that everyone has a chance to share opinions.\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s about providing opportunities for people,\u201d Nardecchia says, adding that today\u2019s IT leadership is also about coaching through asking question, soliciting input, and trusting that workers are capable of doing their jobs. \u201cYou give them the power to make decisions, to debate ideas and come to consensus. You empower them to work together.\u201d\n\nOld rule: Stay in your lane\n\nNew rule: Collaborate across the enterprise\n\nThe CIO domain was once confined to the IT department. Although CIOs are still confined to the technology function at some organizations, they\u2019re increasingly extending their expertise across all departments.\n\n\u201cIn the past they weren\u2019t as open to moving out of their zone. But the role is becoming more fluid. It\u2019s crossing product, engineering and into the business,\u201d says Erik Brown, a senior partner who works in the Product Experience & Engineering Lab at digital services firm West Monroe.\n\nBrown compares this new CIO to startup executives, who have experience and knowledge across multiple functional areas, who may hold specific titles but lead teams made up of workers from various departments, and who will shape the actual strategy of the company.\n\n\u201cThe CIOs are not only seeing strategy, but they will inform it; they can shape where the business is moving, and then they can take that to their teams and help them brainstorm how to support that. And that helps build more impactful teams,\u201d Brown says.\n\nHe continues: \u201cYou look at successful leaders of today and they\u2019re all going to have a blended background. CIOs are far broader in their understanding, and where they\u2019re more shallow, they\u2019ll surround themselves with deputies that have that depth. They\u2019re not going to assume they\u2019re an expert in everything. So they may have an engineering background, for example, and they\u2019ll surround themselves with those who are more experienced in that.\u201d\n\nJohn Marcante, US CIO in Residence at Deloitte who has worked in tech leadership for nearly four decades, says he, too, has seen the need for CIOs to bring a broader perspective to their roles as they\u2019re now expected to lead big cross-functional teams and transform not just their tech stack but the entire organization.\n\n\u201cThe CIO position is now a training ground for CEOs, so it has to be less siloed,\u201d he adds.\n\nOld rule: Drive customer adoption\n\nNew rule: Let the customers lead\n\nThe customer delight principle has been reshaping how organizations design and prioritize their touchpoints with their customers \u2014 and that is forcing IT to think and work differently, too.\n\n\u201cA CIO has to change the orientation of their people. Whether the customer is an external or internal [user], the orientation has to be outside in,\u201d says Bobby Cameron, vice president and principal analyst at research firm Forrester, where he focuses on best practices for IT.\n\nUsers expect an \u201cintegrated set of services oriented to user success,\u201d he says.\n\nIn other words, they expect technology to be tools that they can easily use to accomplish the tasks they\u2019ve set out to do and\/or solve their problems. The technology can\u2019t feel or actually be an obstacle to those objectives. Nor can it be something IT designed and delivered expecting that the users should adapt their needs, practices, and processes to accommodate the technology.\n\nYet research shows that many IT departments have not yet made the shift to customer-led design and delivery, Cameron says. He notes that Forrester has found that 59% of CIOs fall in what Forrester calls the traditional mode of leading IT. Only 33% are \u201cfuture-fit,\u201d meaning they\u2019re focused on speed, flexibility, and value.\n\nHe advises CIOs to bring iterative development practices as well as human-centered design into their IT practices, \u201cso you\u2019re able to solve problems from the user perspective.\u201d\n\nOld rule: Prioritize the steady state\n\nNew rule: Advocate for continual change\n\nThere\u2019s no question that stable, strong IT infrastructure is more essential now than ever, yet CIOs can\u2019t succeed by making a steady state the-end-all-be-all. Instead, they must be change agents who are not only OK with constant change but also advocate for it while ensuring infrastructure can scale and support that change.\n\n\u201cSuccess is managing change versus moving from one fixed stone to another,\u201d Cameron says. \u201cSo for CIOs to be really successful in this new environment, they need to be able to make change continuous, and they have to find ways as leaders to help their people understand how to do that.\u201d\n\nHe adds: \u201cThat means making structural changes.\u201d\n\nThere is mindset shift here but equally important \u2014 if not more so \u2014 is the need to change how work actually happens. One of the most prominent adjustments for IT is the move from approaching technology delivery as projects \u2014 something that\u2019s planned, executed, and completed \u2014 to a product mindset that embraces incremental improvements delivered throughout a digital tool\u2019s lifecycle.\n\nCIOs are instrumental here, Cameron says, as they need to build an IT department that breaks down siloes between teams, supports collaboration across the entire enterprise, and adopts agile development methodologies. They also have to invest in the technologies that enable agility and change, such as cloud computing. And they have to develop a governance structure that supports, rather than stifles, continuous change.\n\nOld rule: Play it safe\n\nNew rule: Create a safe space that supports bold moves\n\n\u201cBuilding processes and controls that are required to keep the lights on, that\u2019s not going to allow CIOs to lead the transformational change that organizations are trying to drive,\u201d Brown says. \u201cThat approach basically constrains organizations rather than unleashing them.\u201d\n\nThat\u2019s not to say that CIOs should chuck all policies, standards, and controls.\n\n\u201cThey\u2019re still required, but they need to be more fluid and they need to be automated, so they guide but they\u2019re not taking all the CIO\u2019s focus,\u201d Brown says.\n\nCIOs who consider controls and security requirements as guardrails and then automate as much of them as possible create for themselves and their team an environment that allows more freedom to innovate, he explains. That\u2019s because there\u2019s space to maneuver, try, fail, and learn safely; the guardrails \u2014 particularly those that are automated \u2014 act as something of a safety mat.\n\nRockwell\u2019s Nardecchia has seen that in action, noting that he\u2019s willing to give bold ideas \u201ca try even if I\u2019m skeptical\u201d because of the tack he has taken that has built trust in his staff.\n\n\u201cIn the past, each of our weeks were filled with operational and performance management meetings \u2014 measuring and tracking project progress, reviewing operational performance metrics [such as] incidents, ticket closures, continuous improvement, etc. Basically, a heavy hand on the steering wheel of the operations,\u201d he says.\n\nInstead of that heavy hand, Nardecchia and his leadership team now have quarterly performance and status updates as well as one-to-one meetings \u201cto keep everyone aligned, listen to feedback concerns, engage our staff and partners, talk about vision of the future, strategic imperatives and coach, mentor and sponsor our teams and colleagues in other groups.\n\nHe says this all builds engagement and trust while also providing the required guidance.\n\nNardecchia and his leadership team also set clear goals and specific expectations via objectives and key results (OKRs) and link individual goals to the company\u2019s strategic goals \u2014 another way to set guardrails without being unduly rigid.\n\n\u201cBy setting clear goals and expectations, and providing regular feedback and support, we help the team stay focused and motivated, even in challenging and uncertain environments,\u201d Nardecchia says.\n\nOld rule: Compel productivity\n\nNew rule: Inspire staff to produce\n\nKristen Lamoreaux, president and CEO of IT executive recruitment firm Lamoreaux Search, has seen a change in the type of CIOs in most demand. Companies now want executives who focus on workers, instead of taskmasters focused solely on their teams\u2019 output, she says.\n\nThere\u2019s a reason for that shift, Lamoreaux says, as the CIOs who are most successful today are those who have a human-centric approach to managing and leading.\n\nThe tight IT job market, in which workers \u2014 particularly top tech talent \u2014 have their pick of employers is driving this shift, she says. So is an ongoing change in societal priorities. \u201cCOVID taught all of us that there is no greater priority than your health and the health and well-being of your friends, family, and co-workers,\u201d she says.\n\nLamoreaux says many executives built a human-centric culture during the height of the pandemic. They enabled virtual work. They tolerated (even welcomed) the presence of pets and children in the background of Zoom meetings. And they supported flexible schedules.\n\nBut Lamoreaux says some executives are pulling back, advocating a return to the pre-pandemic \u201cnormal.\u201d That, however, isn\u2019t something all workers are willing to accept. \u201cIt is still a candidate-driven market,\u201d she says.\n\nThe most successful executives, including top CIOs, are remembering to keep their workers first, Lamoreaux says, in part by continuing to support flexible work, including virtual or hybrid options. They are also focusing on employee development and are building diverse teams and inclusive cultures. And they\u2019re respecting boundaries.\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s in how you treat your workers,\u201d Lamoreaux says. For example, such CIOs won\u2019t send out emails overnight, recognizing that even if they don\u2019t expect a response workers may feel obligated to check and respond at any and all hours.\n\n\u201cThis doesn\u2019t mean you\u2019re not holding employees accountable for the work. Rather, it\u2019s building a culture where employees have a voice, where CIOs will listen to them. There\u2019s trust that the employee can get the job done,\u201d she adds.\n\nMarcante, Deloitte\u2019s CIO in Residence, says he knows the value of focusing more on the workers than only on output. He points to one of his prior roles, where employee engagement was in the 20s when he started but jumped to the mid-80s during his tenure. He credits his focus on empowering and inspiring workers.\n\n\u201cYou talk less about operations and infrastructure goals and you talk more about customer outcomes, ennobling the mission of the organization, talking about providing real value to others and not about maximizing shareholder value,\u201d Marcante says.