My wife and I are hooked on a television show called, “Undercover Boss”. In this show an upper level executive, usually the CEO, of a company will “go undercover” and perform some of the lower entry level jobs in his company. The show is very well done and the boss always uncovers the human element of what makes his company great.
For those who reside outside the Northeast U.S. or aren't familiar with the situation, Cablevision and Fox are in a heated dispute over renewal fees to broadcast a handful of Fox stations to millions of Cablevision subscribers in New York and New Jersey. Cablevision claims that Fox wants more than $150 million to carry WNYW, WWOR and WTFX, more than double its previous fees.
As a Cablevision subscriber, the disagreement between the two companies goes beyond being inconvenient and annoying. Since the blackout began, Cablevision has been running the equivalent of infomercials that are broadcast each time you turn on the service, blasting Fox for its greed and stubbornness. As a viewer, it's aggravating to have to see this every time you turn on the TV. What's even more bothersome is that Cablevision is now encouraging its viewers to petition lawmakers to intervene.
To be sure, CIOs should have a good understanding about technology and strong business acumen in order to be successful in their roles. But to truly be an effective leader, CIOs must have solid people skills, communicate well and be great at developing partnerships with employees, business peers and other constituents, according to the authors of a new book on the topic.
In The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results (Harvard Business Review Press, Nov. 2010, $29.95), co-authors Graham Waller (Vice President and Executive Partner with Gartner Executive Programs), George Hallenbeck (Director, Intellectual Property Development, Korn/Ferry Leadership) and Karen Rubenstrunk (formerly with Korn/Ferry's CIO practice) examine the key talents CIOs require and how those can be developed.
I've been reading a lot of stories and commentaries lately about IT governance and whose responsibility it is. One of the more insightful and balanced pieces I've come across was penned by Gartner analyst Julie Short on Silicon.com where she cited several reasons for why IT governance should fall to a company's board of directors.
I agree with many of her points, including how she sees "the lines between the business and IT becoming more blurred" and how IT tasks are being performed in the business, how business is taking on IT leadership roles and vice versa.
CIOs like to take on big challenges. Like helping companies to identify and execute on strategies to grow revenues in a down economy. Or stepping in to rescue a foundering project, such as a struggling ERP effort.
But some challenges are beyond gargantuan. Like being the CIO of Enron during the height of its legal and financial troubles.