10 must-reads for aspiring CIOs

You're working hard to win a CIO role. But are you making the right choices? CIOs who have made the leap share their best advice
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CIO Choosing Doors

Maybe after a few years of IT leadership positions, you feel tantalizingly close to landing a CIO role. Maybe you’re beginning to realize you’ve got the stuff to be a CIO in a few years, but you need to build a case for yourself. In either case, we’re here to help you aspiring CIOs get closer to the job you’re working so hard to win.

The CIO role has never been as crucial as it is now in the age of digital transformation - a fact reflected in rising salaries and intense competition for CIO slots. How can you stand out as a candidate? The number one thing aspiring CIOs should do is build out experience as customer experts, says Katie Ross, a recruiting partner at Heller Search Associates, an executive search firm specializing in CIOs and senior IT roles.  That might mean work with customer-facing applications, mapping out customer journeys with marketing and product teams, or meeting with customers to understand requirements. “Back-office functions will always be important, but engaging customers with digital technology is the next game-changer,“ Ross says.

You should also be working on your emotional intelligence - for example, the ability to listen and motivate people. You want to demonstrate an appreciation for constant learning – after all, you’re going to have to learn every day on the job, at a breakneck pace. Today’s CIOs are scrambling to examine how blockchain and AI will rewrite old rules, for example.

As Optima Healthcare Solutions CIO Jason James puts it, “You can never sit back in your job when it comes to the role of CIO. Technologies that work well for the business this year might hold you back the next. As a CIO, you have to constantly evaluate how new technology could help give your company a business advantage, even if your current solutions are serving you well today.”

So let’s start learning. We’ve pulled together some of our best recent stories for aspiring CIOs - packed with advice from your peers who’ve won a CIO seat. No one knows better what makes a great CIO than someone who has earned that role the hard way.

7 ways to win the CIO role you covet

CIOs and recruiters share seven to-do items you should prioritize

Vanguard CIO's advice for rising leaders: Think like a gardener

Vanguard CIO John Marcante on why you should stop playing chess and start helping others grow

Want to be a CIO? Stop taking orders

CIO Rob Zelinka explains why rising IT leaders should not be seen as mere appeasers

Aspiring CIOs: Your technology chops still matter

Optima Healthcare Solutions CIO Jason James says you can't fake tech chops

3 crucial personas of successful CIOs

ServiceNow CIO Chris Bedi on 3 personas you must embody: Communicator, salesperson, and influencer

Aspiring CIOs: Don't be afraid to have hard conversations

Travelport CIO Matt Minetola explains why you must develop comfort with uncomfortable conversations

Top soft skills for IT leaders and how to master them

Communication. Empathy. EQ. They’re must-haves for CIOs. Use these strategies to improve yours

10 things leaders with emotional intelligence never do

High EQ leaders don't lose their cool. They don't swallow emotions. Learn about the behaviors to avoid

5 LinkedIn tips to strengthen your personal brand

Does your LinkedIn profile reflect your distinct story as a rising IT leader? 

7 habits of highly effective IT mentors

How to make your mentorships work - for both sides

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Laurianne McLaughlin is Editorial Director, Digital Communities for Red Hat, leading content strategy. Previously, she served as Content Director for The Enterprisers Project, Editor-in-Chief at InformationWeek.com, and Managing Editor at CIO.com.