CIO Leadership, IT Performance

CIO Leadership and "Big Bets"

Enterprise CIO Forum guest community manager, Paul Calento, discusses how risk averse management is not the same as leadership.

Management is a series of predictable, some say methodical, decisions. But for the purposes of Enterprise CIO Forum, we champion leadership, even though management (good or bad) is far more typical. I’d argue that great leaders are defined by a series of big bets … big bets which carry at least a little bit of risk.

But when we look at how we talk about IT modernization risk seems to be the overriding inhibitor. Joel Dobbs calls it “Mr. No CIO” No to consumerization. No to the cloud. No to big data. Clearly this is untenable … and arguably a middle manager mindset.

Risk for risk’s sake benefits no one. We need to understand the requirements of the business. Provide a plan for exceeding them. And getting buy-in throughout the process. And to me, that means that leadership is about letting go. Ask your teams. Encourage new ideas and approaches. It all starts from within. But the challenge with that approach is that it requires a leap of faith that many of us are not willing to make.

So, what are your big bets? How did you get to them? What role did you peers, team members, execs, customers and even your competitors play in that process. A big bet isn’t merely adopting a converged cloud infrastructure or a comprehensive information optimization plan for Big Data or modernizing your converged infrastructure … those are means to an end.

  • Consolidating data centers?
  • Embedding your IT department staffers directly at the point of contact, within line of business?
  • Taking projects started via Shadow IT on and making them better?
  • Utilizing consumerization of IT trends to find incremental budgets to utilize apps?
  • Leveraging Big Data to find low hanging fruit revenue opportunities missed or ignored by the siloed data of the past?

What ‘s yours?

Leave a comment. Share your successes.

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Pearl Zhu 90 Points | Thu, 08/30/2012 - 17:25

As Joel pointed out, Management is to manage business efficiency, but leaders is to ensure business effectiness, they do have overlap, from modern CIO perspective, CIO need become business leader and IT manager at the same time, the visionary (more leadership driven) and cost optimizer (more management driven); the talent master (more leadership oriented: to recognize & appreciate the talent) and integration manager.

Leadership is more about influence, management is more about facilitation, leadership is to inspire alliance, and management is to avoid chaos. So well-mix leadership & management team can deliver better busienss performance. thanks.   

Paul Calento 255 Points | Fri, 08/31/2012 - 00:58

Specific to tech, it seems that the leadership often comes from within the team, not from the top. Just look at how virtualization and cloud computing have been adopted and used. While considered industry standard today, using these technologies at scale took guts a few years ago ... and now look at how its creating agility.

Implication: We can learn from our teams to be better.

Joel Dobbs 339 Points | Thu, 08/30/2012 - 13:07

Good morning Paul,

 Peter Drucker once famously said, "Management is doing things right-Leadership is doing the right things."  Successful executives need to be a blend of both with the balance tipping progressively towards leadership as one rises higher in the organization.