CIO Magazine has an interesting article about the need for a CIO to build and maintain relationships, by Jack Bergstrand (founder & CEO of Brand Velocity, a consultancy that helps companies implement critical business initiatives_: Great CIOs are politically savvy. For the aspiring IT leader, this article is worth reading. The article cites Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, in pointing out that to get better organizational results, leaders should take a social-science-based approach. In other words, it requires social skills as well as objective metrics.
From the article:
Great CIOs are savvy—in a healthy and honest way—when it comes to corporate politics. They have a personal touch. They are perceptive about where key people are coming from. They see similarities and disconnects among the various stakeholders. They're able to respectfully and effectively identify the trade-offs that any strategy requires, and communicate those trade-offs to people at any level of the corporate hierarchy.
So, as a strategic CIO, don't disregard objectivity, but put it in its proper context. You'll need to continually know where your strategic stakeholders intend to go and why (which is subjective), what therefore needs to happen and when (which is objective), how to best deliver those priorities (which is objective), and who is motivated to do them with distinction (which is subjective).
Relationships are currency, and you can use them when you need help or advice. As you climb the career ladder, the Interpersonal skill becomes increasingly significant. Making friends and building relationships is an important facet of leadership, but it is often a very difficult skill.
Take a few moments to map out your social network. How would you rate your relationships, your political connections within the organization? Consider who you look to if you had a problem, or needed help getting something done, or simply had a question. Is there anyone out there that you wish you knew better and who in your personal shares a relationship, and might introduce you to them?
For leaders to succeed, we have to work with many people. That's just part of the job. The successful CIO needs to be able to bring together different people, from inside the IT organization and from faculty areas, to work collaboratively. At other times, you need to use your relationships to make deals, smooth over conflicts, and generally just get things done. Do not overlook this part of your leadership development.
If you aspire to become a CIO, practice the skills to build a relationship with someone new. There are four basic steps to create that connection. These are sometimes called the "4 I's" of relationships:
You can use the same method of Initiate, Inquire, Invest, Inspire to build your own relationship networks. The more people you know, the better you can navigate your organization and get things done. But don't let your relationships grow stale; find opportunities to renew your friendships. If you call from someone in your relationship network, take a few moments to catch up before getting down to the task at hand. Or simply call or visit that other person, just to say hi and see what's up. These short moments help to build up your relationship currency.