It is our dream to see CIOs gain their rightful place in the top management and play a more meaningful role in creating truly digital enterprises. In the emerging business scenario, IT and digital are expected to play a big role.
One step I have taken towards that is the creation of a leadership assessment and development program for the Chief Information Officers (CIOs).
In this article, I would like to present a primer on the CIO leadership role assessment and development. A lot is being talked about CIOs and their roles (i.e. what is?). But the discussions remain rather incomplete and skewed without a proper understanding of the required actions (i.e. what to do and how to do?).
It is my personal belief that a completely new discourse is required around ‘what and how’ to enable CIOs enhance their contribution towards organizational sustenance and performance.
CIO role assessment and development is a mix of two aspects-
Theknowledge around CIO’s role, e.g. what are the various roles played by a CIO, what makes the role effective, the evolution of the role over time, the contextual implications for the role etc.
The process for role assessment, in which a CIO becomes (self) aware of his or her specific situation and is able to identify the personal areas for development. The process can be both formal and informal; however a formal approach is always more effective. It should lead to role development, which includes the concrete ways to improve upon the areas identified during the assessment process.
We all have been continuously focusing on the knowledge part. I think it’s time to talk about the (assessment and the development) process also.
We, at Coeus Age, have developed a detailed process of CIO role assessment and development. This has four stages, each one consisting of detailed methodologies adapted from the fields of organization design and development, human behavior psychology, sociology and information management. The four stages are depicted below-
Self Awareness >> Acceptance >> Inner Inclination >> Learning Actions >> Outcomes
Let’s start with the understanding of the two basic fundamentals of the assessment process, awareness and acceptance.
Awareness is ‘knowing about one’s inner self and the external surroundings in terms of relations, perceptions, norms and activities’.
In an assessment process, awareness is generated through conducting psychometric tests, self reflections, group feedback sessions, other group tasks, interviews etc. These can be done either by the individual self or with the help of a specialist. The specialist generates cues, provides directions to the thoughts, observes and shares the observation. Awareness happens at various levels- cognitive, behavioral, emotive and social.
It is a well established fact that any development happens in the direction of our quest and quest is shaped by awareness. Many a time, we keep on doing things out of habit without ever thinking what we are doing and why we are doing. And often it does not produce intended results.
So, e.g. if a CIO spends more time on the internal focus of his role (motivator and task master’s role), he may not even be aware of this skewed focus. The fact that he needs to also give attention to the external focus of his role (vision setter and communicator’s role). The awareness helps him understand that he needs to also spend time on listening to and talking with the leadership and the business users. There may be deeper psychological issues of self identity, confidence etc. and socio-psychological issues of strained relations, the CIO behavior etc.
Acceptance is the other side of awareness. We can accept only what we are aware of and the awareness is salient when we accept it. It is the most difficult part of the assessment process as it requires one to challenge one’s existing mental models, cognitive structures and the thought process. Changing these means moving out of the comfort zone and question what one has considered right for very long. To accept what needs to be learnt and unlearnt and what needs to be changed threatens one’s psychological existence. It is here that one needs non judgmental emotional support from a specialist. The specialist can create the right and non threatening environment for some to accept one’s deeper psychological and behavioral aspects.
Building upon the earlier example, it may be difficult to accept the negative consequences of one’s behavior or the deeper fears, concerns and perceived inabilities inhibiting one to focus externally.
The development process on the other hand is built upon the two aspects of inner inclination and learning actions.
Inner inclination refers to one’s will to undergo change. It is a direct consequence of the acceptance of the results of awareness. The acceptance resolves the inner struggle to resist, thus releasing vital human energy. When this is coupled with the need felt by one to bring in change within oneself and external to oneself, the inclination to undergo change and personal development evolves. The inclination is a must as without it one would not act despite awareness and acceptance of that awareness.
Learning actions emanate from the inner inclination of an individual CIO to act upon the awareness and acceptance. Learning actions may include formal methods of developmental workshops and courses, management development programs (MDPs) etc or informal ways of peer learning, self reading etc.
We bring three well defined services for our CIOs to emerge as leaders –
1. CIO Leadership Workshop – which is based upon the six instruments for self assessment, including our flagship CIO Leadership Roles and Competencies Inventory (CIO LRCI).
2. Mentoring for Success – we at Coues Age provide mentoring and coaching to those who wish to go through the learning process as described above. Our skilled mentors and coaches help an individual CIO to deal with the insights of self awareness, chalk out a learning path and walk on that. It is done in one on one sessions over phone or face to face over a period of time, where the mentor helps the CIO spell out the desired goals and develop a development plan towards achieving that goal,
3. Special Services for specific learning needs and support in expressing through speaking and writing.
The (developmental) outcomes of the assessment and development process (awareness to learning actions) can be positive shifts in behavior, enhancement of skills and competencies, increase in role effectiveness, higher job satisfaction and personal growth.