Divergent CIO

An innovative, transformative, and digital leader experienced in Technology and Executive Leadership

Leadership Endures: CEOs Come and Go

Leadership Endures: CEOs Come and GoThe CEO of a company has historically been the driving force in overall strategy and vision. Same goes for all types of leadership, from CIOs to CFOs...all play an important role in advancing a company forward. The key here is "forward." While the person in this position is important for a particular point in time, this role is static -- a snapshot, if you will, of an organization's success or failure at a fixed point in time. What's most important is enduring business performance that stems from leadership culture as well as deliberate, well-thought-out development of leadership at every level.

No one's doubting the CEO's role. However, research shows that the level of a particular company's maturity in their leadership development has a far greater influence on their long-term performance than anything else, including individuals who fill the role of CEO, CFO or even CIO. So how do strong companies with an eye on the future choose CIOs, not just for their individual skill sets, but who will advance the company culture of success to endure in the future long after they're gone?

  • They link leadership strategy to business strategy.
  • They make sure their leaders are aligned, coached, and trained in the company vision.
  • They build leadership development programs and select professionals based on their ability to drive the company's strategy.
  • They incorporate leadership qualities into the corporate culture at all levels: managers, supervisors, etc.
  • They develop leaders from the bottom up.
  • They invest a lot of money in leadership development through training, seminars and workshops.
  • They create their own unique leadership model based on research, rather than hire a consultant or adopt an existing model.

Leadership that endures is built right into the very core of a company. That way, when a CEO leaves and a new one takes over, the strategy is already lined up, waiting for continued implementation. Of course, every leader brings his or her own unique spins to the strategy, but the bones should be solid and built to last the test of time. CEOs are there to adopt the leadership culture, make changes as needed, and weed out areas of complacency. Their job is to be the catalyst behind a culture of working as one to perpetuate the goals of the organization. That means fostering teamwork and holding people accountable no matter which level they happen to be at.


Leadership and Technology 

Technology is one important sub-set of a company's success. Without proper management across the board and over time, it can be difficult to drive effective change that lasts. When it comes specifically to CIO leadership as it pertains to technology to drive a company forward, the same principle applies. Strategies that ensure enduring long-term performance despite who's sitting in the CIO seat include:

  • Clear definitions of requirements
  • Consultation with all team members on goals
  • Creation of specific and measurable goals
  • Regular tracking of progress

CIO recommends using the SMART acronym when setting goals for the long term designed to transcend individual leaders:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time bound


Creating a Culture of Endurance

In short, the success or failure of a company has more to do with strategy and vision for its long-term success than the individual. Clearly, there are innovative CEOs that propel a company to greatness, and then there are some very bad CEOs that damage that vision and set back the corporate culture; some companies bounce back from that and some don't. The key is to establish a leadership strategy that can stay the course throughout the decades and that can weather any storm that may blow in.

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Bringing Back the Art of Customer Service

Customer ServiceSome say customer service has gone the way of the do-do bird. For many it's a lost concept, something that's been buried over time in favor of the bottom line. But it says it all right there in the title: customer service. It means serving the customer, but it should mean so much more than that. As the leader of your company, you may have your neck on the line when it comes to cold hard profits. After all, you have a boss to answer to and he has a boss to answer to, and so on. Healthy positive earnings are rewarded, not necessarily the customer experience.


While you may have a fancy website, chat features, or even a robust e-commerce store, there's so much more sandwiched in between the lines when it comes to truly understanding what "customer service" means. No, it hasn't gone extinct, but it may be on the endangered species list. Something's missing, that extra service with a smile, offering convenience to clients, going the extra mile to ensure someone is happy with their experience...that's where so many companies fall short these days. It's time to bring back the art of customer service.

At the Heart of It...
You can have the most streamlined services in the world or the best product...you can have the best CEOs in charge of your company or top of the line leadership teams converging in the conference room once a day to come up with innovative ideas. But customer service doesn't happen in the boardroom or on a memo. It happens out there, with the people who are buying into your products and services. Customer service is more than just a phone number, more than specials and coupons. At the heart of customer service? People who care about the end result. Period. Who's there to pick up the phone? Who's there to solve a problem? Are there live people your clients and customers can speak to about an issue or do they get bounced around a virtual black hole until they're finally dumped off to someone who doesn't necessarily know how to help?


Just think about the quality of customer service in your personal life. Feeling valued is what makes people connect with a company. If you can't achieve that, you won't see repeat customers. Before you go thinking that a healthy bottom line means you automatically have great customer service, think again. Some of the wealthiest companies in the world have sub-par customer service, but this doesn't necessarily make them great from a customer perspective.


A Simple Principle
It's a simple principle: happy people come back to you, while unhappy people go elsewhere. Worse than that, they tell anyone who will listen about their awful experience. In fact, the Houston Chronicle says those who have bad customer service experiences tell between nine and 20 people, while people who have a good experience only tell between two and three people. Can you afford those kinds of repercussions?

Do one thing and do it right: make the customer feel they matter and that's half the battle. Following through on that is also important, but that's a story for another day.

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