As leaders, we are constantly striving toward further innovation in our organizations. We aspire to be the “go-to” person for questions about change and the guiding light for embracing new solutions ‒ all the while keeping our humility and knowing when to lean into our resources for support.
With technology evolving faster than ever, here are seven things you can implement today to improve your leadership game and prepare your teams for the future of work.
1. Accept that the only constant in the role is change
Cliche? Yes, but it’s true. Whether technology, the structure of work, personnel changes, or the global economic climate, there are small and large roadblocks that test our prowess as leaders. But if you can focus on finding the best solution for right now rather than the “perfect solution,” you will be primed to change as the market does. An agile mindset is critical for the future of work.
2. Align closely with other C-suite leaders
For most C-suites in 2022, the goal is to innovate outdated processes (core IT systems/operations, software) and develop a structure for the future of work within a digitally transformed landscape, all while advancing business outcomes ‒ and this is a team sport. Your objectives should be in lockstep with the rest of the C-suite to ensure that innovation is not happening in a silo and data is linked to larger business objectives.
[ Also read 7 skills CIOs say are core to their jobs. ]
3. Invest in upskilling
Upskilling and reskilling are often recommended to mid- and entry-level employees, but they can be just as beneficial to upper management and executives. A great leader never stops learning, and dedicating time to learning new skills sets an example for your team to follow.
[ Related read IT talent: How upskilling can help boost digital transformation ]
As a bonus, you might just have something new to share at your company’s next all-hands meeting. This is especially true for CIOs overseeing data policies and procedures that shift with evolving regulations.
4.Prioritize influence over control
Amid uncertainty, the natural reaction is to tighten the reins on your teams and implement stricter policies that ensure you are getting a strong ROI on your staffing investments. This thinking is valid, but be careful not to harbor doubt and trust that tough people make it through tough times. Lead by embracing new protocols and encouraging others to do the same through creative decision-making and bold yet calculated risk-taking.
5. Make a wish list for your role/team
Set your sights on an ideal tech stack/talent/client list as an easy exercise. Ask yourself what your perfect suite of resources looks like, and don’t limit your goals to what seems realistic. List your hopes for your future team, and keep the list where you will see it. This and other exercises help foster creativity and innovation by allowing your mind to stretch beyond the day-to-day.
6. Think about where most of the work is done
Often, we think of innovation in terms of being customer-facing. But in reality, that’s not where most of the work is being done. As a CIO, you should focus on how you can streamline internal business processes to increase employee efficiency. What has always worked may still work, but failing to explore solutions that previously seemed impossible will leave you a beat behind disruptive unicorn companies. For example, fintechs and other startups have an edge because of their agility and adaptability. When you innovate the long-tail processes, customer experience improves as a result.
7. Strive to improve your communication skills continuously
A core tenant of a strong leader is clear communication. Transparency, timely communication, and authenticity lead to greater trust and employee buy-in throughout your organization. Let clear communication be the other constant that your teams can expect amid constant change.
[ Want more expert insights on leadership, strategy, career development, and more? Download the Ebook: 37 award-winning CIOs share essential IT career advice. ]