Develop Your External Leadership Skills

A collection of essays from CIO Executive Council members on understanding and developing the external-facing leadership competencies of "customer focus," "commercial orientation" and "market knowledge."

Of the executive leadership competencies that are considered core to C-level executive success, the ones that CIOs typically have the least experience with—and therefore the weakest development—are those that are externally focused. These competencies are also those most critical to becoming a Future-State CIO, which the CIO Executive Council defines as an IT leader who spends a larger proportion of his or her time driving and enabling business strategy, versus being primarily focused on running the IT function and enabling process transformation.

In the current State of the CIO survey, external customer focus and identifying and seizing on commercial opportunities grew significantly in importance to CIOs in their roles for the coming year (see "Acting on Opportunity"). This collection of essays by Council member CIOs and executive talent assessment firm Egon Zehnder International explains and illustrates the three external competencies in action. It also provides peer-to-peer insight on how to acquire knowledge and develop personal strengths in these areas and cultivate them in your IT organization.

CIOs from Best Buy, Universal Orlando Resort, Direct Energy and others describe how they have learned to anticipate customer needs, become market savvy and identify and enable commercial opportunities. Egon Zehnder partners define and describe associated high-performance behaviors.

Download the essay collection, or learn more about the Council at


This story, "Develop Your External Leadership Skills" was originally published by CIO Executive Council.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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