3 skills CIOs must master before moving up the C-Suite

3 skills CIOs must master before moving up the C-Suite

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CIOs who are aspiring to new levels in the C-suite need to understand more than computing. What’s becoming more important is the ability to be involved with the processes that create business opportunity, integrate with the community in which they work, and deliver innovative solutions to problems that may not even be obvious to the rest of the C-suite. In other words — lead the business beyond what is typically expected from IT.

I asked Dewey Hou, vice president of Product Development at TechSmithCorporation: “What 3 skills do you see necessary to progress from CIO to CEO, CFO, CTO, or other position?”

Hou explains, “Years ago when I was an engineering student, I was completely absorbed in classwork and playing with the latest technology. I was clueless about the larger world of skills and experiences that one would need to move into executive roles. There many skill areas to name, but here are my top three:

Business Acumen: Understanding the business side of things:

It became painfully clear a few years into my engineering career that the best technology doesn’t always win in the marketplace. Observing my boss gave me a great appreciation of the business acumen that was needed to run a successful company. Learning about the industry, market and customers that your company serves is critical. In addition, I started with learning basic financial intelligence skills (i.e., being able to read a company balance sheet). Understanding the language of MBAs and legal mumbo-jumbo has proved invaluable over the years.

Management: Understanding how to work with people

As companies grow, learning basic management skills was critical in many ways. Much of what I learned about project management was experiencing many failures and successes. Gaining organizational skills on what makes a great team and trying methodologies of how to deliver a concept from idea to finished product was priceless.

People Skills: How to get things done by inspiring your teams

The last and most important area is people skills. This includes the area of communication and presentation skills. Getting your ideas and vision across clearly though public speaking and writing are too valuable. Next is the ability to connect with people to influence and persuade is also key. Some of these skills are intangibles that come from age and experience. The most effective leaders are those that are concern about people and have a genuine desire to serve and help others.

Scott Koegler practiced IT as a CIO for 15 years. He also has more than 20 years experience as a technology journalist covering topics ranging from software and services through business strategy. He has written white papers and directed and published video interviews.

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