by Reynold Lewke and Steve Kelner, Egon Zehnder International

How Good Are You At Collaboration and Influence?

Sep 18, 20073 mins
Relationship Building

CIOs have room to improve when it comes to influencing others. Ask yourself these questions to see how you stack up.

The C-level leadership competency of collaboration and influence is about working with peers, partners and others who are not in your line of command, to positively impact business performance. Collaboration and influence involve working indirectly, through persuasion, rather than by formal authority.


How to Influence People

Be a Strategic CIO

At basic levels of performance, individuals are willing to collaborate if they are asked. At the medium levels of performance, one actively participates in teamwork and influences as a good team member. At high levels, one not only is a good team player but also enables others to be good team players, facilitating partnerships across organizations and geographies.

High performers seek input and compromise when necessary to contribute to the whole team. Top performers actively look for opportunities to make joint decisions and achieve them. The collaboration and influence competency is in part about engaging others, but it is also about giving up sole ownership of an idea or decision.

This is a competency that good CIOs tend to develop because they often do not have significant direct control over where their company is headed. They need it more than CEOs, who can be more direct in their management style.

Are you ready for collaboration and influence?

Those who wish to improve their performance in this critically important competency first need to examine their organization’s readiness for the CIO to play an expanded role through collaboration and influence, and then assess their personal readiness. Some questions to ask:

About the Organization

  • Does the organization value or prefer a siloed structure? Can you cross organizational boundaries between functions, geographies or divisions?
  • How easy is it to influence the organization? The more complex or diverse it is, the harder the challenge.
  • Do you know the players who are key to getting work done?

About Yourself

  • Do you understand the principles of effective influence and group alignment?
  • Do you see your role as actively bringing people together, or as following the way things are done and executing on predefined plans?
  • How strong is your ability to perceive the feelings, beliefs and preferences of others? Can you see a situation from a perspective other than your own, no matter how much you may disagree with it?
  • Do you get energized by seeing a group work together, or by bringing people together across organizational boundaries or through breaking of old habits?

Based on how receptive your enterprise is, and how adept you are, you can decide how to implement collaborative and influencing behaviors. Like all habits, first you need to identify the problem, then model the changed behavior (leaving yourself room to make mistakes) and persevere until you succeed.

Reynold Lewke is North American CIO practice leader with Egon Zehnder International. Steve Kelner is global knowledge leader of Egon Zehnder’s Talent Management and Management Appraisal Practice Group.