by Gary Beach

The Imperfect Boss

Jul 01, 20022 mins
IT Leadership

Leading IT in your company is your responsibility—regardless of whom you call boss.

At a recent CIO Perspectives conference, I sat in on an interesting session. On stage, three CIOs debated the topic of reporting relationships. The crux of their discussion: Should a CIO report to the CEO or the CFO?

The consensus seemed to be that it is much better for a CIO to report directly to the CEO (or COO). At companies where the CIO reports to the CEO, information technology is viewed as an investment. No one argued for a reporting relationship to the CFO because—panelists claimed—those companies that have one see IT as a cost to be managed, curtailed or cut.

The argument seems logical. But in my March 1, 2002, column I presented readers with seven creeds of the CEO as a way to characterize how their CEO views IT. (The creeds were originally defined in a Sloan Management Review article.) I asked readers to select the category that most represents the CEO at their company and vote on CIO’s website. The results (at left) may surprise you. They certainly surprised me.

Well so much for the theory that reporting to the CEO is better than reporting to the CFO.

Leading IT in your company is your responsibility. Take on that responsibility with passion and enthusiasm every day you report to work regardless of whom you call boss.

And thanks to those readers who took the time to vote. Poll on CEO Types

The category that best represents the CEO at your company:

27%—The Hypocrite, who espouses strategic importance of IT but negates belief through personal action.

19%—The Believer, who believes IT enables strategic advantage and demonstrates belief through action.

18%—The Waverer, who reluctantly accepts strategic importance of IT.

14%—The Monarch, who accepts IT is important, appoints the best CIO and steps back.

11%—The Agnostic, who concedes IT is important but needs repeated convincing.

8%—The Zealot, who is convinced IT is important and equally believes he is an IT expert.

2%—The Atheist, who is convinced IT is of little value and publicly espouses this belief.

Total number of respondents: 159 (Numbers do not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.)