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Linda Price of Gartner on a critical CIO focus for 2015: Being a powerful digital leader and influencer

Linda Price of Gartner on a critical CIO focus for 2015: Being a powerful digital leader and influencer

How can CIOs help the enterprise understand and get excited about where digitalisation can take the business?

From ‘control first’ to ‘vision first’

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Command-and-control leadership does not suit the high-speed, uncertain digital world; in fact, it can be an obstacle.

Vision and inspiration are typically the most powerful attributes of digital leaders. Most CIOs recognise this: 79 per cent plan to change their leadership style over the next three years, most commonly by amplifying their vision while reducing their command and control. Though visionary leadership is not generally part of their gene pool, CIOs looking to become digital leaders can take concrete action toward achieving it.

We also need to shift from aligning with corporate culture to building a digital culture. A traditional, risk-averse corporate culture that views IT only as an infrastructural enabler of transactions will devour even the most innovative digital business strategy. To avoid this fate, CIOs and other leaders need to lead a digital cultural revolution across their businesses, possibly their ecosystems.

From IT management to digital inspiration

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To seize the digital opportunity, CIOs need to help the enterprise understand and get excited about where digitalisation can take the business. Education and inspiration are central tasks for CIOs determined to be digital leaders.

In addition to developing a shared understanding of digitalisation and what it means to the business, CIOs and other IT leaders need to increase the digital savviness of their enterprises.

Education and inspiration are central tasks for CIOs determined to be digital leaders.

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Consider techniques such as study tours (visits to clients, customers or businesses with innovative technology), showcases, informal interdepartmental brown-bag lunches, digitally savvy non-executives in governance bodies, reverse mentoring and hackdays.

It’s not enough to admire the problem. A CIO may run a great IT shop, be aware of digital trends on the horizon and even participate in digital experiments and innovations. But all this is still not enough. CIOs have a unique opportunity, but they must flip their information and technology, value, and people leadership practices to deliver on the digital promise.

Linda Price (linda.price@gartner.com) is group vice-president, Gartner Executive Programs, Asia Pacific.

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