by Myles F. Suer

CIOs: Is your team ready for the future?

Sep 05, 2017
IT Leadership

CIOs discuss how to build future-ready teams, sharing many useful ideas for all leaders experiencing business change.

road to future
Credit: Thinkstock

As technology and software, in particular, become central to the future of all businesses, CEOs should be asking whether their team is ready. Since IT leaders have a big role to play in helping to define and realize the business future, I asked the #CIOChat for their thinking on this topic. These IT leaders shared many ideas that should be useful to all leaders experiencing business change.

Jay Ferro, global chief information and technology officer for Examworks, said this effort “must include ensuring you, as the CIO, have the right skills for the future too.” This is an important thought because as the information age continues to move into full swing, the speed for personal skill obsolescence only increases as was divined in Alvin Toffler’s “Future Shock” and “3rd Wave.” An interesting response to this challenge has been for businesses to hire younger CIOs. For this reason, the average age of a CIO has dropped according to Ernst and Young to 43. One CIO that occasions the #CIOChat has even taken on the Twitter Moniker of “Kid CIO.”  

With this said, #CIOChat members do have 14 ideas that you can put into practice to have your team ready for the future. Without further ado, let’s explore each one.

  • Be the leader that creates success by building loyalty and preparing your staff for what’s coming next.
  • Share the vision, encourage openness and collaboration, and break up your existing knowledge silos.
  • Hire right, fire fast, coach and mentor your team, build a sharing culture, and lead. And while doing these, help build your people up and give them opportunities to stand out.
  • Instead of looking for rock stars, ninjas, and gurus, look for high “EQ,” a desire to continually evolve, and intrinsic motivation.
  • In addition to building the team and the individual, it is also critical to get rid of the people that do not a fit. Dead weight can damage the productivity and morale for your entire dept.
  • Put investment and attention into soft skills, communications, and the ability to learn and adapt quickly.
  • Use reverse mentoring. Select mentoring relationships that serve as a forum for learning both for the mentor and the mentee.
  • Contract for immediate skills shortfalls (but build in a skills transfer to the program). Train for medium-term needs, but also organize for long-term needs.
  • “As a techie, upgrade yourself continually. It is mandatory in today’s environment.”
  • Invest in staff and develop a program to help everyone, including yourself, grow and stay relevant to your enterprise’s future.
  • Hire people who want to learn and be part of something bigger. And give them chances to excel.
  • Remember your best people are often the ones that you take a chance on.
  • Leaders need to have education and training as a budgeted priority, not “among first to be cut” in a budget change.
  • “Outsource 1-foot-wide, 5-miles-deep skills.” Maintain in-house “everyday” skills and administrative support.

Parting remarks

There are a lot of great ideas here from #CIOChat members. Two ideas that I especially like is reverse mentoring and taking a chance on people. As someone who often looks for examples in a great movie, “The Intern” is an example of both the mentor and mentored growing from the process. And since football season is upon us, I like to think of the impact of taking a chance on someone as being the true life story of “Invincible.” It tells the story of Vince Papale of the Philadelphia Eagles. Dick Vermeil, the Eagles coach, took a chance on him and changed his team’s position. Hopefully all of these ideas will impact you and help you prepare your team for the future. And thank you to the CIOs and IT leaders of the #CIOChat who share amazing ideas every week for IT leaders and business managers alike.