Respect is an asset every CIO seeks. Achieving a reputation for knowledge, reliability, and honesty takes time, as well as a strong personal commitment to embracing professional standards. Yet a single false move, made in haste or by a momentary lack of judgment, can leave a hard-earned reputation in ashes.\n\nThe IT leader\u2019s role has changed dramatically over the past several years. \u201cOnce upon a time, the CIO was the chief information officer, responsible for the company\u2019s entire IT infrastructure,\u201d says Christopher M. Walker, a business consultant and coach. \u201cNow, the CIO is more likely to be known as the chief innovation officer, responsible for driving digital transformation within the organization.\u201d\n\nWhile the CIO\u2019s role has evolved significantly over the past few years, many IT leaders continue to fall into the same traps that tarnished the position and stature of countless colleagues. \u201cDespite the changing nature of the role, there are still some surefire ways for a CIO to ruin their professional reputation,\u201d Walker states.\n\nWhile a hard-earned reputation can be ruined in many different ways, there are a handful of common blunders that trap IT leaders with distressing regularity. Here\u2019s a look at the seven top ways CIOs unintentionally manage to grind their professional status into the ground.\n\n1. Inflexibility\n\nIn today\u2019s rapidly changing world, organizations need a leader who\u2019s both agile and comfortable with change. \u201cIf a CIO is inflexible and resistant to change, it will quickly become apparent and their professional reputation will suffer as a result,\u201d Walker warns. Steady communication is also important. \u201cIf you can effectively communicate with both the business and the IT departments, you\u2019ll be well on your way to building a strong reputation,\u201d he notes.\n\nWalker believes that CIOs should become more political in their management team interactions by gathering supporters and forming alliances. \u201cThey need to be able to navigate the complex political waters that they will inevitably encounter,\u201d he says. \u201cThis can be a difficult and stressful task, but it\u2019s one that CIOs need to be able to do if they want to be successful in their careers.\u201d\n\n2. Invisibility\n\nYour brand speaks for you when you\u2019re not in the room, and CIOs may ruin their professional reputations by hiding in the shadows, says Maureen Farmer, founder and CEO with Westgate Executive Branding and Career Consulting. A lack of personal branding can limit a CIO\u2019s ability to move up the industry ladder, since they remain a secret, unknown to anyone beyond the enterprise.\n\nCIOs are highly skilled experts who quietly lead their teams within the most complex digital and physical infrastructures in the post-industrial world, Farmer observes. Generally lacking visibility beyond their enterprise, CIOs seldom focus on personal career strategies and opportunities. \u201cInstead, they deliver bottom-line value through cost cutting, efficiency gains, and integration of products post-merger, to name just a few of the challenges they face,\u201d she notes.\n\nCIOs need to step out of the shadow and into the spotlight. Speaking at industry events, connecting with colleagues, and writing articles and white papers are just a few of the ways CIOs can build their brand.\n\n3. Failing to innovate\n\nIT leaders should burnish their reputations by encouraging innovation in the form of new initiatives, prototypes, hackathons, and cross-departmental partnerships, says Jeff Mains, CEO of professional services firm Champion Leadership Group.\n\nTo stand out from the crowd and become a highly respected leader, a CIO needs to make critical adjustments their department\u2019s operations. \u201cThey need to become more creative in their delegation of responsibilities so that more time can be devoted to pushing experimentation,\u201d Mains advises. \u201cThey also need to adopt a fresh management style that\u2019s open to the unique ideas that emerge from experiments.\u201d\n\nOn the other hand, being overly aggressive can actually damage a CIO\u2019s reputation. \u201cMany veteran CIOs possess the industry experience and combat scars to support their thoughts on the best technologies and methods to execute them,\u201d Mains says. \u201cHowever, sometimes, they\u2019re so sure of their ideas that they try to force them on everyone, from their subordinates to their executive-level colleagues, without first gaining buy-in.\u201d Over the long run, it pays to be assertive, but not argumentative.\n\n4. Reckless decision-making\n\nBe mindful of the decisions you make. \u201cOne careless choice can ruin your reputation and your career,\u201d warns Jim Durham, CIO of Solar Panels Network USA, a national solar panel installation company. \u201cBy being aware of the risks and taking responsibility for your actions, you can minimize the damage and learn from your mistakes,\u201d he advises.\n\nA careless decision can be anything from selecting the wrong technology to mishandling sensitive data. \u201cNot only are these actions career-destructive, but they can also have lasting negative effects on your enterprise,\u201d Durham notes.\n\nCIOs are always pressured by management to make the right decision. It\u2019s important to remember, however, that even the best strategies and intentions can sometimes lead to disastrous results. \u201cIf you\u2019re unsure about a decision, it\u2019s always better to err on the side of caution and consult with your team before making a final call,\u201d Durham suggests.\n\nFailure is never an option, particularly major failures. \u201cIt shows that you\u2019re not capable of handling important tasks,\u201d Durham states. It can also damage the enterprise\u2019s reputation and, by extension, your own. In the worst-case scenario, it may lead to your termination.\n\nUnfortunately, even the most cautious CIOs can make mistakes. \u201cIf you do find yourself in the midst of a public relations nightmare, the best thing you can do is own up to your mistake and take responsibility for it,\u201d Durham advises. \u201cThis will show that you\u2019re willing to learn from your mistakes and to make changes to ensure it never happens again.\u201d\n\n5. Possessing subpar social skills\n\nA leading way CIOs ruin their professional reputation is by ignoring the human factor. \u201cCIOs have to be able to communicate with both technical and non-technical people, and they must always remember that they\u2019re dealing with people,\u201d says Anthony Vaccaro, vice president of sales at Timewatch, a professional services software provider.\n\nCIOs often get frustrated because their team isn\u2019t meeting their expectations. \u201cAll of a sudden, they start treating them like machines, or worse, like children who don\u2019t understand what\u2019s going on,\u201d Vaccaro says. \u201cThis is a surefire way to lose the trust of your team and make them feel like you aren\u2019t listening to them.\u201d\n\nWhenever something goes wrong, it\u2019s up to the IT leader to figure out what happened and how to avoid repeating the mistake. Shifting blame down the ladder is a cop-out. Word will spread over time, reaching all levels of the organization, and your reputation will take a beating.\n\n6. Neglecting to share credit\n\nBoth management and staff prefer to work with individuals who recognize their achievements. Failing to share credit for a job well done isn\u2019t going to help a leader\u2019s reputation, internally or externally.\n\nPromoting department achievements is a fast, easy, and subtle way to elevate your visibility as a reliable and innovative leader. Praise your team\u2019s diligent work and everything you\u2019ve helped them to achieve. The result is a winning outcome for all parties.\n\n7. Failing to align IT with business goals\n\nWhen IT and the enterprise begin heading in different directions, disaster is inevitable. The result is typically chaos, bad feelings, and a CIO with a reputation for being uncontrollable and unreliable.\n\nPursuing IT opportunities that don\u2019t fully align with business objectives can prove fatal to a CIO, says Cole South, co-founder of Synchronize, an e-commerce solutions provider. \u201cGetting aligned with business goals and achieving them takes time,\u201d he notes. It\u2019s always worth the effort.