I had the pleasure last week to meet with the Global CIO at a large software firm with the goal of asking him for his leadership perspective. We met for 90 minutes that flew by as we caught up on personal lives, discussed the changes in an organization where we used to work together, and then dove into the questions on my mind.
My questions for him included how he had defined the IT strategy now that he’s two years into his role, how he maintains focus on the priorities, and what he’s enjoying about his job.
He shared many thoughts and meandered through stories of the company, the IT strategy, and the people who bring it to life. He stressed that he believes you need to keep the number of priorities small (he has three) and while you can have many sub-categories within these priorities, it’s critical to tie everything back to the priorities so the team, the business, the executives, and the customers understand where you’re headed and why you’re executing on certain initiatives.
The priorities as he set them out for his team:
- Creating the IT Roadmap, including simplifying and streamlining the number of technologies in the overall stack.
- Driving efficiencies, using LEAN practices and a focus on the #1 priority. This frees up investment dollars to do work the team identifies for better service.
- People. Simply put, he just said “people”.
My specific questions were answered, but the value I got from this conversation was much greater than that. As we discussed each of the priorities, it was clear they were all integrated. You need people to define the Roadmap and execute on the changes, the Roadmap creates efficiences if executed right, and people are happier when they have clear direction about where they’re headed and are able to see the progress. So I realized that while stating priorities is critically important, it’s just one piece of the overall puzzle.
On the people topic, we talked about the following:
- setting a goal with clear objectives
- listening to input
- communicating, clearly and often
- motivating the team
- celebrating the successes
- making it fun (*)
(*) This Global CIO who is incredibly busy created an award called “CIO for a Day” where the winner comes to his office, they brief on the day ahead and the goals for each meeting, and then he introduces the CIO of the Day to the people in each meeting and allows him / her to drive the discussion and the decisions. How cool is that?
I came away impressed and inspired. Having someone take on your role for the day goes beyond shadowing and takes a lot of time and attention. I imagine it’s not only the person who wins gaining something from the experience. The people the winner interacts with will get to see their jobs and discussions in a new light. And it also shows at the end of the day, we’re all just people. The actions, more than the words, told me this leader is really focused on the people.
I hope you’re enjoying my quest of 2017 as I put myself out there, ask for time from strong and impressive leaders, take away learnings from the experience, and share them with you. I’m currently working on setting up the next meeting with another leader.
Let me know if you have questions you want me to include as I continue my quest. And if you find yourself in a situation that you get to ask questions from someone you admire, I’ll be sitting on your shoulder cheering you on! Go Girl Geek!