The CEO of a company has historically been the driving force in overall strategy and vision. Same goes for all types of leadership, from CIOs to CFOs — all play an important role in advancing a company forward.
The key here is “forward.”
While the person in this position is important for a particular point in time, this role is static — a snapshot, if you will, of an organization’s success or failure at a fixed point in time. What’s most important is enduring business performance that stems from leadership culture, as well as deliberate, well-thought out development of leadership at every level.
No one is doubting the CEO’s role. However, research shows that the level of a particular company’s maturity in their leadership development has a far greater influence on their long-term performance than anything else, including individuals who fill the role of CEO, CFO, or even CIO.
So how do strong companies with an eye on the future choose CIOs — not just for their individual skill sets, but their ability to advance the company culture of success long after they’re gone? Here are some attributes to look for:
- They link leadership strategy to business strategy.
- They make sure their leaders are aligned, coached, and trained in the company vision.
- They build leadership development programs and select professionals based on their ability to drive the company’s strategy.
- They incorporate leadership qualities into the corporate culture at all levels: managers, supervisors, etc.
- They develop leaders from the bottom up.
- They invest a lot of money in leadership development through training, seminars and workshops.
- They create their own unique leadership model based on research, rather than hire a consultant or adopt an existing model.
Leadership that endures is built right into the very core of a company. This way, when a CEO leaves and a new one takes over, the strategy is already lined up, waiting for continued implementation. Of course, every leader brings his or her own unique spins to the strategy, but the bones should be solid and built to last the test of time. CEOs are there to adopt the leadership culture, make changes as needed, and weed out areas of complacency. Their job is to be the catalyst behind a culture of working as one to perpetuate the goals of the organization. And that means fostering teamwork and holding people accountable, no matter which level they happen to be at.
Leadership and Technology
Technology is one important subset of a company’s success. Without proper management across the board and over time, it can be difficult to drive effective change that lasts. When it comes specifically to CIO leadership as it pertains to leveraging technology to drive a company forward, the same principle applies. Strategies that ensure enduring long-term performance despite who sits in the CIO seat include:
- Clear definitions of requirements
- Consultation with all team members on goals
- Creation of specific and measurable goals
- Regular tracking of progress
CIO recommends using the SMART acronym when setting goals for the long term designed to transcend individual leaders:
- Time bound
Creating a Culture of Endurance
In short, the success or failure of a company has more to do with strategy and vision for its long-term success than the individual. Clearly, there are innovative CEOs that propel a company to greatness, and then there are some very bad CEOs that damage that vision and set back the corporate culture; some companies bounce back from that and some don’t. The key is to establish a leadership strategy that can stay the course throughout the decades and that can weather any storm that may blow in.