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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How to Create an Innovative Workplace

InnovationFostering a culture of innovation begins and ends with an open mind about change. In order to promote an innovative workplace, no matter what the sector, there should be a continual exchange of ideas to result in the right balance for your company. Yes, you need creativity at the forefront of it all, but this isn't something that can be forced. However, positioning your firm to achieve a successful approach to innovation takes a few key motivators, from flexibility in the work environment to hiring team members for a vision that aligns with yours. Let's take a look at some of the best ways to foster an innovative workplace. 

Building a Creative Mindset
This all starts from the ground up with the people you decide to bring on board to take this journey with you. The wrong employees can prove to be toxic to your overall vision of creativity, change and flexibility in the work environment. It doesn't mean you have to only hire people who agree with you all the time; it's more than that. You want to encourage different perspectives by hiring people who are passionate about what they do, with the flexibility to spur on productivity without being hampered by rigid thoughts, ideas or scheduling parameters, says Forbes



Here are some tips to achieving that sought-after creativity:

  • Give employees incentives to care and thus share your company vision
  • Involve your employees in the process, listening to their ideas and getting them pumped about a new project, company direction, etc.
  • Brainstorm to help new ideas emerge
  • Broaden perspectives and encourage change through practices like short-term job swaps
  • Encourage trying new things, tweaking them to make them fit, discarding them or embracing them as a result
  • Avoid penalizing those whose ideas don't end up working out
  • Reward and encourage the flow of ideas and new thoughts


Does Technology=Innovation?
There's no denying technology is a big piece of the innovation puzzle. After all, how can you expect to compete in today's global market if you're not on board with the latest technology? Innovation often goes hand in hand with technology, but it doesn't have to. In fact, you can be innovative at little or no cost. Innovation, at its very core, is something more than that. Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, put it best in Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance: "In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value." You can have all the strategy, marketing, technology and financial management skills in the world, and although all those things will help get you on the path to success, it may not necessarily keep you there. Bottom line is, you won't get far if innovation, flexibility, and creativity aren't ingrained in the company's soul.

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