by Chris Potts

What YOUR CEO wants from YOU

Feb 27, 20082 mins
IT Leadership

What do CEOs want from CIOs? A conference invitation on my desk offers to give me the answer. But if we’re to avoid the lowest common denominator, surely it’s got to be personal?

Let’s suppose I’m your CEO and you’re my CIO. What do I want from you? If we’ve been together for more than a few moments, I’ve already figured out where I think your strengths lie, and I’ll want you to exploit those strengths as much as you can to the benefit of our corporate strategies and of your career. I’ll also have concluded any gaps in your strengths that we’ll need to plug if we’re going to get the best out of our investments involving IT. Whatever any other CEOs might be expecting from their CIOs, as far as you and I are concerned, I know what I want and what – realistically – you will and won’t be able to give me.

Which is not to say I’ll be ignoring the market, and what other CIOs are doing for their CEOs. But you and I may be achieving greater things together than the market out there, in which case I’ll ignore market orthodoxies and stick to the journey we’re on. On the other hand, if it sounds like there’s some folks getting much more from their CEO/CIO relationship than we are, you can bet I’ll be listening. And contrary to much of the messaging that goes on, I’m not really interested in what percentage of the market we’re talking about. If there’s just one CEO who’s managing to get much more from the CEO/CIO relationship than I am, I want to know what they’re doing differently.

In fact, if anyone just wants to tell me, in a conference or anywhere else, that 99% of CEOs expect X from their CIO so X must be the right answer, forget it. Firstly I’m not 99% of CEOs. I’m me. And the innovator in me knows that the more people who are doing something, the more it’s likely to be yesterday’s solution. So by all means remind me, briefly, what 99% of people are doing just in case I’ve missed it. But the people I’m really interested in are the other 1%, and whether I’m one of them.