by Paige Francis

Know the future with palm leadership, a new style for today’s CIO

Jun 19, 2015
CIOIT LeadershipIT Strategy

As a CIO, a leadership role in something as fickle and ever-changing as technology, your leadership style can't just be charismatic, innovative, pace-setting and transformational. You also need to predict the future.

As a leader of technology today, I find it increasingly difficult to self-identify with any primary traditional leadership style. It’s not necessarily important to me to compartmentalize how I do my job, but in a day where little is more mindless yet oddly compelling than finding out everything from my perfect political candidate to which Disney character I resemble closest in mind, body and spirit via Facebook quiz, I feel drawn to slapping at least a cursory overarching leadership label on myself and using it ad nauseam like a buzzword du jour.

Not really, but seriously…

Current leadership styles embody traits required of today’s CIO in a too-obvious way. Technology is and will likely forever be thoughtfully managing fast-paced and exponentially increasing change, therefore you can’t just be charismatic, innovative, pace-setting, transformational and/or servant-leading.

The expectation is, as an executive technology leader of today, you will embody all of those styles, plus other duties as assigned. Other popular leadership styles are inherently not executive-level enough, detrimentally not fun or situational; and there is simply nothing situational about technology unless situational equals “all situations.”

Most importantly, all currently notable leadership styles are missing one integral criteria: predicting the future.

How do we define a style for leaders that can concurrently keep up with the pace of change, stay engaged with all facets of the business and keep a laser-focus on how each of those facets integrate, ebb and flow while also prophesying on what’s to come and conceptualizing how to address a future based on whatever intricate domino-effect occurs depending on whichever path comes to fruition? All while leading a bunch of critically skilled, diverse-oft-disparate team members?

I bring you: Palm Leadership.

  • Palm Leadership is interesting to outsiders in a “great place to visit but I could never live there” kind of way. For anyone needing structure or rigidity in his or her career, a Palm Leader role would not work.
  • Palm Leadership has a million pieces and no instruction manual. Technology is the glue, connectivity and literal fiber that ties everything together. For risk-adverse individuals or people that cannot self-propel, a Palm Leader role would not work.
  • Palm Leadership takes the past and present into consideration, while envisioning a likely unfathomable future and making and owning decisions to exceed given that technology prophesy. Can you make decisions without a concrete and unwavering path ahead? If the answer is no, you are not a Palm Leader.
  • Palm Leaders are not only investing valuable, costly resources in a future solution to a landscape that hasn’t yet appeared, they are selling these investments to notably risk-adverse peers. Do you feel comfortable owning uncertainty? If not, you are not a Palm Leader.

Making enterprise-and-beyond sized decisions that directly impact everyone and everything with a high probability of disruption based on experience, gut instinct and persistent evaluation of forecasts, both tangible and intangible? Sounds about right.

A Palm Leadership style assumes a portion of all other leadership styles while making high-impact decisions based on a certain-to-you future with the confidence to switch gears mid-stride to enhance, improve and fine-tune based, again, on finely developed instinct. All without a crystal ball.