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IT and business are becoming more closely integrated. IT should have effective value measurements with effective strategic, tactical and operational governance processes that clearly demonstrate its contribution to the business. Effective collaboration with business partners within the organization can make an impact on the predominant business.

It is hard to see how an IT leader could make a smooth transition from service manager to business leader. IT leaders still have a long way to go in terms of their readiness for running big businesses. The central role of IT in modern business practices will increase, hence a probability shows to see more CIOs or CTOs assuming the responsibility of CEO.The very best CEOs define the character of companies and get to that position because of their drive, visualization, appetite and enthusiasm.

There are number of aspects of the CEO role that CIOs don’t naturally acquire through their job function or through their career path before becoming a CIO. The CIOs have to understand all internal aspects of a company – finance, sales, marketing, supply chain management and operations. CIOs are increasingly becoming familiar with these areas too, because IT now infiltrates all these parts of business.

Leadership and Leadership skills

Leadership is the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to lead, influence and guide other individuals, teams or entire organizations. Leadership skills are the strengths and abilities individuals demonstrate that help the oversee processes, guide initiatives and steer their employees toward the achievement of goals.

Leadership includes traits, situational interaction, function, behavior, power, vision and values, charisma and intelligence among others. Leadership involves making sound (and sometimes difficult) decisions, creating and articulating a clear vision, establishing achievable goals and providing followers with the knowledge and tools necessary to achieve these goals. Good leaders often possess the following characteristics: self-confidence, strong communication and management skills, creative and innovative thinking, perseverance in the face of failure, willingness to take risks, openness to change and levelheadedness and reactiveness in times of crisis.

In business, individuals who exhibit these leadership qualities can ascend to senior management or C-level positions, such as CEO, CIO, CTO, COO, CCO etc.

IT Leadership

The top IT leader is most frequently referred to the as the chief information officer (CIO), or Chief Technical Officer (CTO). In information technology (IT) Leaders are often required to be a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to being able to plan strategically, their leadership skills must also be directed towards risk management, disaster recovery, compliance and other aspects of data governance. The most effective CIOs / CTOs need traditional leadership qualities plus a unique set of attributes. Other leadership traits like empathy, willingness to collaborate and the ability to listen are especially valuable to CIOs and other IT leaders, allowing them to reach out to people outside their circles and understand their perspectives.

Managing People in IT

An IT leader today is different from what it was 10 years ago. Leaders need to understand that no one person can do it all, that the people they surround themselves with and how they manage them are the keys to their success.The most successful CIOs are those who recognize and adapt new challenges and take on new roles.

While experts agree that most of what they do is part of people management, there are differences when it comes to IT. There aren’t many other areas that evolve as quickly as IT does and that can create unique challenges for an IT leader.

Challenges for IT Leaders

IT Leaders are facing recent challenges that includes:

  1. Transformation of data into meaningful management information that can capitalize on their data will have a significant advantage.
  2. Set up processes to constantly adapt to new changes. Platforms that allow for rapid solution development must be deployed to deliver the ability to pivot quickly.
  3. Securing data in a way that doesn’t hinder the business or harm accessibility.
  4. More businesses are facing IT skills gap among IT professionals.
  5. Merging legacy technologies with modern technologies.
  6. The complexity and massive integration of systems, processes and applications, which often result in major outages and instability issues.
  7. Ongoing pressure to cut costs year after year, despite having to meet increasing pressure from the business to innovate.
  8. Threats to the business, particularly cybersecurity and privacy-related issues.
  9. Being swamped in responding to regulations and audit issues, rather than getting on with helping the business make money and gain competitive advantage through its technology and information systems.
  10. Still having to deal with legacy systems (many organizations are still on Windows XP because it’s complicated to move forward).
  11. Not being in control, particularly with the rapid rise in outsourcing and cloud services.
  12. Selling project management to CEO or high officials

Strong IT leadership is crucial to aligning IT and the business and is something that evolves as organizations focus more on leveraging IT for revenue generating initiatives and as IT becomes a driver of business change.

Gartner reports to CIOs: Change the world, don’t automate it

The report surveyed 1,400 CIOs at organizations with an average IT budget of $90 million. The study found that 63% of business leaders expect their organizations and companies to grow faster than their industry’s average growth.

The best Leaders are often defined by the fact that their people would do anything for them voluntarily. They do understand the products & services, understanding the regulations, understand the opportunity cost and obviously not compromised with authenticity & accuracy of data & information.


The writer is the SEVP and Head of ICCD at United Commercial Bank Limited.

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