CIO as Leader or Manager?

Managing by Henry Mintzberg - Book Review

Managing by Henry Mintzberg - Book ReviewI just finished reading “Managing” by Henry Mintzberg.

Great book.

What’s so great about it?  It provides a good reminder that being a good manager is just as important as being a good leader.

Mintzberg does an excellent job of bringing the importance of managing well to the forefront.

Like I said…good book.  Buy it today at amazon (affiliate link).

CIO as Manager or Leader?

I ran a quick unscientific test on google and searched for “CIO as Leader” and “CIO as Manager”. The results weren’t surprising:

Not surprising to me since most articles I’ve read (and a few that I’ve written” talk about CIO’s and Leadership.  But there aren’t as many discussions about CIO’s and Management.

Mintzberg’s “Managing” book might help bring the art of managing back to the world of IT and the CIO’s office.

So which is it?

The role of IT is changing and the CIO must lead that change while also ensuring that the IT group is performing for the organization.

The CIO must be a both a Leader and a Manager to bridge the gap between strategy and tactics. Lead the strategic initiatives while managing the tactical operations for the organization.

Both sets of skills are necessary for The New CIO.

Five (bad) Lessons for The New CIO

Dead End SignThe New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges.

There’s lots of articles, books and posts about how to be a good CIO and/or good IT leader….many you’ll find on my blog under my The New CIO series (shameless plug!).

What you won’t find much of are articles & books on how NOT to be a good CIO. So I decided to write a few lessons for how not to be a CIO. Actually…these lessons are valid for any leader or manager regardless of position or functional role but I will use the CIO & IT group as examples to illustrate my points.

Lesson #1 – Focus on yourself

Rather than focus on your team, department or organization, focus on yourself.  Don’t think about the best things for your team or the company…think about what’s best for yourself and your career.

By focusing on yourself,  you can ignore the needs of your team and organization.  You can do the right things (for you) and focus strictly on your own career.  Forget about being a leader or managing your team…manage your career and your appearance and you’ll go far.

Lesson #2 – Gossip and Talk about others behind their back

This is a good one….it could easily have been Lesson #1. There’s nothing better than gossip….and even better is when you can be the one spreading it!  Take it one step further to the ultimate level of badness….gossip about your own staff!

You’ve got people that work for you that you just don’t think are doing a good job and you need to let others know that.  Forget about having a one-on-one with the individual doing a bad job…you need to continue gossiping and spreading information about their performance.

You can take this a step further to talk about your own staff that are doing a good job but who worry you.  You wouldn’t want anyone to think your staff is smarter than you would you? Start some gossip about the bad job they’ve been doing.  That’ll teach ’em to try!

Lesson #3 – Don’t grow your team

What’s all this talk about growing your team? Why do that?  If you provide training and learning opportunities for your team they’ll just leave and you wouldn’t want that would you?

Keep your staff doing the same job that they’ve been doing.  There’s no reason to let them do something else.  Treat them like a bonzai tree….keep pruning them back (but don’t think about pruning the way bonzai master’s do).

Keep those hidden talents hidden…there’s no need to let your team members do anything other than what they’ve been doing.

Lesson #4 – Avoid Confrontation

Confrontation is overrated.  You should try to get through your day (and career) without disagreeing with anyone. Why say ‘no’ if you can say yes? There’s no need to speak up and let your team, your organization or coworkers know that you don’t agree with them or their approach.

Don’t rock the boat….you need to be a team player and you can’t do that by disagreeing with others.

Lesson #5 – Take credit for everything

Spin every project that succeeds so that you’re in the limelight. That new big Content Management System implementation that everyone’s raving about?  All you baby!  The new Exchange Server roll-out that was a success?  Again…You.

But what about the projects that go bad?  That’s easy.  That’s what your managers are for.  They can be thrown in the line of fire to take the heat.  You warned them that the project would go wrong didn’t you?

Keep yourself in front of those successful projects and hide from the bad ones and you’ll do fine.

Remember – these are BAD lessons

Follow these lessons and you’ll end up looking at a dead-end sign.  In fact, you may end up driving through the dead-end sign and crashing and burning.  Take these  lessons to heart and remember this: to lead today you’ve got to do the opposite of these lessons.  Stay away from the dead-end road.

Join me next week for another article in The New CIO series.

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