CIO.com official logo from IDGBrian was recently featured in a crowd-sourced article on CIO.com about “Navigating a Data-Driven Culture“.

“CIOs that have demonstrated strong leadership and who can draw from robust interpersonal skills to build and nurture relationships will be instrumental in influencing and orchestrating such cultural change”, says Brian E. Thomas (@DivergentCIO), CIO. “To drive the culture shift, CIOs need to play a significant role in bridging the gaps in technology fluency with business objectives.”

#Culture #Leadership #Data #DataDriven #CIO

 

 
 
 

What does it mean to be “winning”? Does it mean you’re successful every step of the way? Does it mean you make the most money over your competitors? Not really, at least not necessarily. Fostering workplace culture that is considered “winning” goes much further than your bottom line. It has more to do with developing and nurturing an environment that is conducive to forward-thinking, a successful mindset and a deep-down belief that you’re all in this together. If you can bring people who work for you together rather than segment them, you’re taking a solid first step.

Think about Google, JetBlue, Facebook, Apple, Disney…these are all companies that are well known for their coveted corporate cultures. Sure, they’re wildly successful, but there’s a really good reason, and that reason has everything to do with employees and customers that truly love those companies. Eighty-one percent of business leaders say a company lacking a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity, with fewer than 10 percent of businesses succeeding in building an empire, according to Entrepreneur.

Importance of Culture

So, why is culture so important? It will set the stage for everything you do from here on out. If you’re a startup, you may feel a bit intimidated and even terrified of this statement. But it’s true: from your hires to the way you run your daily operations, you have opportunity upon opportunity to set yourself apart from all the rest. How you treat your customers, for example, is a big chunk of that. Another big chunk? Your leadership. Leadership is about what you do rather than what you say, with a healthy company culture emerging as a direct result of a leader who understands how important company culture is to the sustained growth of the organization, points out Forbes. So, whether you run a startup out of your garage or you’re the CIO of a big technology company, get back to your roots and build a positive workplace culture right in. You can’t survive and thrive without it.

Tips to Fostering the Culture You Want

It doesn’t happen overnight, but there are ways you can integrate a positive workplace culture from the get-go. Here are some tips:

Learn from mistakes: Not just yours, but other organizations around you. Take those lessons, internalize them, learn from them, and know what it takes to cultivate success.

Align your culture with your core values: Who are you? What is your business all about? Whether philanthropic in nature or customer-focused, infuse your passion into the workplace to encourage creativity, collaboration, work hard/play hard mindset: whatever it is that drives you forward every day, foster that passion in everyone who works for you. Your brand will follow you everywhere. Make sure it aligns with your core values.

Insist on open communication: The ability to build honesty among your staff is built on communication. Talking with each other is key. Encourage your staff to come to you with concerns, and address those concerns quickly. Make sure everyone knows their opinions are valued.

Have some fun: From craft beer Fridays to company outings to team building exercises like rock climbing or wine tastings, there are many ways you can join your staff together in a common interest and let off steam at the same time. Connecting on a level that doesn’t involve work always brings people closer together.

Be a community of believers: If your employees don’t believe inherently in what you do or sell, they can’t fully back it. Place a big emphasis on internal communication and orientation, and you’ll see results. Sustaining a positive work atmosphere means you have to show your employees why the brand they’re promoting is so great.

Work together: Building a sense of community begins and ends with a solid team. Rather than segregating departments of units, promote unity through all levels of your company, from founders to management to executives.

Grow your culture: This isn’t a “set it and forget it” job. Fostering a company culture that will survive takes continual effort. Like a lawn without water, your culture will die a slow death if you neglect it. Give your organization the freedom it needs to thrive and evolve. Remember, you will see fluctuations as it grows. This is normal and expected.

Whether you’re the genius behind a cool startup, or you’re the new CIO of a long-established company in need of a change of vision, you have the power to establish a winning culture people want to be a part of.

The 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.

The CEO Strategy

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.

No one always likes change, but change is a necessary catalyst to improve the fundamentals of any organization. Transformation requires strong, authentic leadership in order to be successful; if not, failure is a very real possibility. CIO.com says that in many transformation programs, sufficient checks and balances exist so that failure does not readily occur; however, if not managed well, transformation programs can be delivered late, over-budget and far off the track of the original vision. Statistics show that less than 40 percent of transformation programs are successful, due to a disconnect that exists in the goals of such programs and the reality of resources that can be devoted to it (time, money, personnel, etc.).


Implementing a Transformation Office

That’s where the implementation of a Transformation Management Office (TMO) comes in. Someone has to be at the helm of the operation who not only recognizes the inherent challenges that come with implementing enterprise transformation and the work that must be done to achieve it, but who also can guarantee streamlined, spot-on execution at just the right pace with all eyes on the finish line. Combining strategy with clear-cut goals for implementation is critical for the TMO.


What Does a TMO Do?

This part of an organization is the crux of any successful transformation, with the central duty being to implement the complex task of adding value and accountability to the process. In general, the TMO will:

  • Lead the charge in coming up with creative, workable ideas designed to fuel the transformation effort and ensure it has the steam to move forward.
  • Offer a simple yet detailed approach to the process so executives and other key personnel can take those ideas and run with them.
  • Analyze how the transformation will take place and align with corporate vision.
  • Ensure the program has clear objectives.
  • Utilizes a streamlined operating model where efficiency and cost effectiveness take center stage.

The bottom line is, organizational transformation is disruptive. It’s uncomfortable for many, and it takes time. That’s why a TMO must be brought on board to concentrate on the specific tasks involved in orchestrating this endeavor, following it through to its completion despite such roadblocks. Putting this task on front-line staff and executives too entrenched in the organization already is a recipe for disaster. This is why a traditional project management office (PMO) is not a good choice to lead such an initiative. They deal with administration and compliance on a regular basis, and therefore would not be a good fit for the challenges that are part and parcel of a large transformation initiative.

The difference between success and failure of an organizational transformation often comes down to action. Your TMO needs to walk a fine line between strategy and clear objectives on one side but also implementation and action on the other. Anyone can sit in a boardroom and contemplate goals. It takes a strong leadership team to take those talking points and apply them in a value-driven way for success. Which side of the line will you be on?

When you think of a team, you think of many different people working together to form a focused cohesive unit. Whether on the ball field on in the board room, teams are an integral component to success. And while individual performance does impact the outcome of the team’s efforts, no one person should be greater than the sum of all parts.

In a perfect world, this makes sense. In the real world, however, a lot of work has to go on behind the scenes to be the manager of such a well-oiled team. Personal agendas, misguided focus, and just plain laziness often get in the way that can derail the group and prevent it from reaching its goals.

That’s why a leader is needed to help hone and create an effective team through a variety of approaches, from clear communication to engagement. Let’s take a look at some of those in more detail.

Engage Your Team

As leader, your job is to guide your employees in their overall mission, then step back and let them mature as a solid entity as they take on new and expansive roles and responsibilities. Giving each person his own responsibility and vision empowers individuals, which benefits the team as a whole. Your employees crave the feeling of being valued and challenged, and they are eager to be trusted with the freedom to explore and learn while on the job. A few things you can do:

  • Detect and encourage the most positive capabilities in each person.
  • Stop micromanaging and start empowering teammates to discover their full potential. Micromanagement leads to disengagement.
  • Stage them in a position of influence.
  • Share your successes while making them feel an integral part of that accomplishment.
  • Ditch the mind games and be consistent with your approach and style. Have your employees’ backs.

Stay Connected

One big reason teams fall apart and lose focus is that they feel disconnected from each other. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to keep people connected, via internal social networks and video conferencing solutions, so team members can get a better sense of how their individual contributions impact their team and the organization as a whole, says Forbes. That’s why an investment by your company in these technologies is crucial in an effort to offer flexible work environments that further foster employee engagement.

Know Each Team Member’s Strengths

An added benefit of the above-mentioned technology is that managers and leaders can more readily keep their fingers on the pulse of the organization in an effort to stay on top of what motivates and inspires employees. However, all the technology in the world won’t help you really get to know what makes each person on the team tick. That comes from one-on-one observance, open collaboration, and a healthy rapport between yourself and each team member. 

Communicate and Set Goals

Frequent communication is key to keeping everyone on track and focused. Check in daily for an overview of progress, make it clear your door is always open, and encourage the free flow of ideas within meetings. Setting clear, focused and attainable goals is another piece of the puzzle. Without them, your team can easily get distracted from the mission, causing time delays and frustration.

Creating highly effective teams doesn’t happen overnight. Through collaboration, engagement, communication and goal setting, you can manage a team to success!