8 quotes to inspire IT leaders in the new year

If you’re working on innovation, collaboration, or adaptability, get some inspiration from top CIOs 
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It’s the time of year where many of us are slowing down, reflecting on the past 12 months, and thinking about our goals for the new year. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good quote to get you started. 

I combed through many of the articles we published this year to find some inspirational thoughts on topics you’re likely to face as a leader next year – from improving collaboration to the importance of adaptability. Whether these quotes spark new ideas or validate existing perspectives, I hope you find some inspiration from these thoughtful CIOs. 

On building a culture of innovation

Anil Cheriyan, Managing Partner, Phase IV Ventures and former CIO, SunTrust Banks: “A culture of innovation is primarily about leadership, a growth mindset, and the desire to fundamentally change. We used to say on our team that we wanted builders and not maintainers — not that maintenance was a bad thing. We wanted people who were fundamentally unhappy with the status quo; you need that desire to change embedded in your DNA.”

Read the full article: 3 keys to innovation: Collaboration, architecture, and culture

On being an open leader

Mike Kelly, CIO, Red Hat: “Being accepting of feedback, being open to ideas and influences from everywhere is essential to open leadership – but it’s only half the picture. Open leaders need to combine their inclusive and collaborative spirit with the conviction necessary for setting boundaries. All leaders need to do this, of course, but open leaders invest the extra effort into making those boundaries clear and obvious, to explain the context for those boundaries. But they do set them. Because the alternative is a belly full of way too much – organizational indigestion. And it’s uncomfortable for everyone.”

Read the full article: How to avoid organizational indigestion through open leadership

On a job perk that all leaders can offer 

Jay Ferro, interim CIO, Quikrete: “I work hard to be a leader who can say, ‘You’re here for a reason. I trust you. Keep me informed as needed, but go for it.’ I know what it’s like to work for leaders like this and I make sure to pass the same privilege and respect on to everyone on my team. This opportunity to contribute to meaningful work, be recognized for that work, and to learn along the way is more valuable than any office perk I could offer. It elicits passion – and that passion will take your organization into places well beyond your expectations.”

Read the full article: Two strengths of revenue-generating IT teams: Speed and talent

On taking collaboration to a new level

Bill Mayo, CIO, Broad Institute: “We can seize the opportunity offered by a world where Agile, public cloud infrastructure, and SaaS solutions have taken so much off IT’s plate, and pursue a new level of collaboration with our technologically savvy business partners. For example, we have worked with one major cloud partner to build a comprehensive training plan to allow scientists across the institute to enhance their expertise building scientific pipelines in the cloud. I still have a team that can help with specialized issues, but by collaborating instead of competing for ‘ownership’ of technology, we are embracing the technical fluency in the organization and the institute is able to accelerate significantly.”

Read the full article: How IT collaborates at the cutting edge of biomedicine

On the importance of adaptability 

Robert Walden, CIO, Epsilon: “As CIO, you have two options – try to keep your death grip on the way things were and resist these changes, or focus on enablement and then get out of the way of the people doing the work. Choose the first option, and you’ll likely fail to differentiate and fall behind in the market. The second option is more aligned with the future of IT and where I see things going … Enablement and adaptability are key to creating a more nimble organization. Be nimble, be quick, and you’ll be more likely to get to a happily ever after in today’s state of continuous change.”

Read the full article Today's must-have IT skill: Adaptability

On timely decision-making

Sven Gerjets, CTO, Mattel: “Imperfect decisions early on are often better than perfect decisions that are too late. Momentum is required to steer a ship and action is the momentum transformational efforts require.” 

Read the full article: Mattel CTO counts on 4 principles to lead digital transformation

On the need to thank your team 

Curt Carver, CIO, University of Alabama at Birmingham: “If you’re embarking on your own mission to become a first-choice IT organization that your customers choose, you need to focus on a few things: Partner with the business units to create joint solutions that move the institution forward, and listen intently and act intentionally based on their feedback. You also can’t forget to thank and appreciate your team; they’re the ones coming with you on this journey.”

Read the full article: Creating world-class IT functionality takes teamwork

On the power of a robust professional network

Deborah Gelch, CIO, Curry College: “Also, understand that at the end of the day you are only as successful as your team. If you don’t have a robust network of IT professionals with every aspect of the IT skill set, develop that team now. These colleagues will be your future hires, consultants, and vendors. My best hires and vendors are the ones with whom I have maintained a relationship with for years. Your team and your network of connections are key to your success. Openly recognize them for their work behind the scenes, in meetings, and in front of your colleagues.”

Read the full article: Aspiring CIOs: You are only as good as your network

Ginny Holden is an independent consultant who brings the practice of IT to life through memorable storytelling.