As we head into the final month of the year, it might be a good time to talk about books. I realize it's the holidays and you're probably thinking you're too busy to read. But when you start having to leave the safe harbor of your home to do holiday stuff -- attend parties with excruciating people, shop, go to the airport -- I think you'll find time. Would you rather be out there battling dense masses of humanity or sitting by the fire with a snifter and a useful book on how to be a winning CIO? I've chosen these books because they contain substantial passages that directly address CIOs' contribution to their companies' success factors. I'll even tell you which chapters you might read if you just don't have time to read it all.
As we head into July we begin summer in earnest. Since summer tends to be slow in many offices, the pace of hiring follows suit. What better way to spend this time contemplating self-improvement as a manager and as an effective C-level leader? The following books -- most of them from HBS Press, not all new releases -- offer fresh and, more importantly, practical approaches to managing people. First, however, let's begin with a book on negotiation -- a skill CIO recruiters at the top search firms across the board name as a key capability they look for in CIO candidates.
It's summer, and that means beach, which for many means beach reads. Beach reading tends to denote a lot of girl books (remember The Nanny Diaries?) and popular nonsense by authors like Dan Brown, Candace Bushnell, and -- heaven forbid -- Jonathan Franzen. But look, you're intelligent, educated people, right? I recommend spending your beach days with some books that are interesting, engagingly written, and, most important, helpful to your career even if most of the following aren't directly IT-related. Oh, and remember to wait thirty minutes after applying sunblock before heading for the sand. (And if you're in Ipswich, pick up some fried clams. They'll really improve your career prospects because they're magical.)
This is purely a personal hunch, but I have to guess a lot of IT professionals aren't entirely comfortable touting their successes. People in the IT function probably market themselves the least of professionals in all functions.
In every piece I write here I try to incorporate the theme of thinking about the business outside IT. A huge part of being more connected to and recognized by the rest of the organization is the words IT managers use. The best CIOs are bilingual. They speak both technology and business, flawlessly, with no accent.