Here’s a hard truth: Many organizations are now facing significant leadership gaps, particularly in critical core skills, and it’s going to prevent them from being able to transform and succeed in the digital economy.
Consider the current state of IT leadership development. According to a recent Zenger Folkman study, the average age of an individual promoted to supervisor is 27 years old — but the average age of an individual in a company leadership development program is 46 years old. That's an average of 19 years that a supervisor is leading without formal training. Another study, by the Center for Creative Leadership, pointed out that the largest group of leaders today are “accidental leaders,” with 60% of frontline leaders saying they have never received any training for their new role.
In this digital age of constant disruption — and with the shelf-life of skills rapidly shortening — we are waiting too long to develop IT leaders who have the anticipatory mindset and collaborative skills to drive innovation and lead their organizations in a dramatically changing world.
C-suite executives are acutely aware of this growing leadership deficit. Just look at any survey of CEOs from the past few years and you’ll see it consistently at the top of their list of concerns. But the problem is, as organizations scramble to develop their bench and fill the void, too many are relying on an outdated leadership playbook.
Everything has changed in business, and the way we approach leadership development needs to change along with it.
What we can learn from the organizations that are leading the pack in this area?
Recently, five of the top CIOs in their respective industries joined me on two leadership panels where we unpacked their leadership philosophies, insights, and stories, along with their words of advice and encouragement for the next generation. This prestigious group of executives included:
The audiences were comprised of a total of 50 graduates of The Technology Leadership Experience (The TechLX), recognized by CIO.com as a Top 10 IT Leadership Development Program. These cohorts of up-and-coming IT leaders spent the past year on a learning journey that included leadership assessments, workshops, one-on-one mentoring with a CIO, networking and problem solving with their peers, and more.
The panels gave them the opportunity to learn directly from some of the best in the business about their successes, their failures, and what it takes to be a future-ready IT leader. Some of the nuggets they picked up will be immediately applicable, while others will become gold down the road. It’s all part of the process of becoming the kind of transformational IT executives that today’s CEOs are relying on to help drive the business forward.
In my latest CIO Whisperers column, I’ve captured some of the common themes addressed by the CIO panelists, including what they're looking for in the next generation of IT leaders, how they’re targeting their leadership development efforts, and why they’re turning to programs like The TechLX to build more robust pipelines of future-ready leaders.
Leadership is a force multiplier.
Every time someone takes their leadership game to the next level, they win, their team wins, their company wins, and their families and communities all win. We’re doing a disservice at so many levels when we fail to adequately address this massive leadership void.
Back to those hard truths: The longer organizations wait to develop their pipelines of future-ready leaders, the more difficult it will be to transform and compete successfully in a digital economy. As the CIOs told our TechLX graduates, what got you here won’t get you there.
What are you doing to elevate leadership in your organization?
CIO, the go-to resource for CIOs and technology executives, has just named O&A’s Technology Leadership Experience (The TechLX) as one of its top 10 IT leadership development programs designed to help IT professionals become the best leader possible.
With only 40% of executives believing they have a robust leadership pipeline, this significant endorsement underscores the importance of finding the right mix of development opportunities to build your critical pipeline of future-ready IT leaders.
Register your IT leaders for an upcoming virtual TechLX cohorts, and they will benefit from this top-10 leadership journey regardless of where they’re located — and at 30-50% the cost of a traditional leadership development program.
Our Virtual Cohorts Fill Up Quickly!
Get in touch today for a walkthrough of the core components of the program and to secure a spot for your IT leaders in this top-10 leadership experience — the most comprehensive leadership development program developed by IT leaders for IT leaders.
Contact Bethany Dustin
“Today’s trailblazing leaders recognize that in order to credibly transform their organizations, they must credibly transform themselves and their teams.”
That’s the conclusion of The 2020 Future of Leadership Global Executive Study and Research Report, published by MIT Sloan Management Review and Cognizant, which uncovered some stark gaps that “serve as a warning” to today’s leaders:
The TechLX Addresses These Gaps Head On
We designed The TechLX in collaboration with trailblazing CIOs who are committed to building a more robust pipeline of future-ready IT leaders. Developed by IT for IT, The TechLX delivers the highest quality, most impactful leadership development experience available.
Here’s the best part: It’s never been easier to bring this one-of-a-kind experience to your IT leaders. Our virtual cohorts are easily accessible, cost-effective and designed to deliver the measurable outcomes you and your leaders need.
Enrolling Now: November & December Virtual Cohorts
Our next two virtual cohorts launch in November and December, and they’re filling up quickly. Get in touch with Bethany Dustin, our Manager of Leadership Development Experiences, today for a “State of IT Leadership” deep-dive discussion and to explore how you can leverage The TechLX to grow your pipeline of visionary IT leaders.
Join the Trailblazers
AMC Theatres • Bayer • Edward Jones • Emerson • Energizer • Express Scripts • FedEx • H&R Block • Mastercard • Panera • Post • Westinghouse
These are just a few of the trailblazing companies that are leveraging The TechLX to develop the new leadership skills critical for success in the digital age — and future-proof their organizations in the process.
Call 603-782-7474 or email email@example.com for a “State of IT Leadership” update and to learn how to register your IT leaders for our upcoming virtual cohorts.
A recent Deloitte study finds that CEOs are looking for CIOs to step up as strategic business partners and shepherd the organization through accelerating cycles of transformation and disruption. In fact, 40% of CEOs in that survey named their tech leader as their top partner in business strategy — more than the CFO, CDO, COO, or CMO combined.
The harsh reality is that technology executives who continue to ignore the need to transform themselves and their teams eventually become organizational casualties.
O&A’s Dan Roberts recently spoke with one tech leader who’s ahead of the curve in this area, Danielle Brown, Vice President and CIO at Brunswick Corporation. In his latest CIO Whisperers column, Dani shares her insights and advice as a strategic champion of change.
“It’s so important for IT leaders to recognize that this is their role,” she stresses. “You have to have a seat at that table and, more importantly, a voice at that table, because your voice is based on a vantage point that others don’t have.”
As Dan mentions in the column, to start down the path of becoming an effective leader of change, you have to understand the components, or 4 Cs, of change: commitment, community, and clarity, along with the glue that binds them all together, communication.
Though IT leaders understand what it takes to manage people, leading an organization through significant change requires a different set of skills.
Our Leading Change Across the Enterprise workshop will enable you to build change leaders and champions throughout your entire IT organization, equipping your team with the skills, tools, clarity, and framework to lead successful change initiatives.
Get in touch for a one-on-one walkthrough of the workshop and to discuss your specific IT leadership development needs.
Read the CIO Whisperers column: What CEOs want in a CIO: A strategic business partner
AMC Theatres, Bayer, Edward Jones, Emerson, Energizer, Express Scripts, FedEx, H&R Block, Mastercard, Panera, Post, Westinghouse…
As disruption hits every facet of the business, these companies are focused on strengthening their pipeline of future-ready IT leaders today — and growing their competitive advantage in the process.
Their secret? The virtual Technology Leadership Experience (vTechLX)
Follow the lead of forward-thinking organizations around the globe and bring the most comprehensive leadership development experience available for mid-level IT managers directly to your leaders, no matter where they are.
A dynamic, blended learning approach for today’s busy IT leaders
When you leverage the vTechLX to strengthen your pipeline of visionary IT leaders, you’ll be in good company.
Let’s get your IT leaders enrolled in our next cohort. Contact Bethany Dustin (603-782-7474) for a free walkthrough and full details.
O&A CEO Dan Roberts will be moderating IT IMPACKT, “Repositioning Your Company Digitally,” a one-of-a-kind national networking and education event featuring some of today’s most innovative and successful technology executives.
During this 4-hour complimentary virtual event, powered by EFM Events and IT Pack, you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with peers around the country and learn how to capitalize on IT’s successes through the current disruption and become the innovative anticipators who will lead the business into the future.
The online event will allow for 1:1 interaction, group chats, live streaming, 1:1 video calling, interactive Q&A sessions, and MUCH more. Check out the full agenda here.
Have a meeting come up or an unexpected errand to run during a session? No problem! Sessions will be available for on-demand viewing so you can view and rewatch at your convenience. We hope to “see” you on the 20th!
I recently had the opportunity to talk with six outstanding CIOs who epitomize the phrase “leader as teacher.” I wanted to find out more about why they view teaching as a critical responsibility of leadership, what it means in practice, and how they maintain a teaching mindset and make it a priority in their very busy schedules. This prestigious group included:
I featured key lessons and takeaways from these leaders in my CIO Whisperers column at CIO.com, but as you can imagine, when you’re picking the brains of some of the top IT executives around, you’re going to end up with more valuable insights and advice than you can fit into one column.
Below are some additional nuggets that you will want to read and share with anyone who shares your commitment to elevating their leadership game. Be sure to check out the CIO.com column as well for more context about the need to for “leader-teachers” in IT today.
What does being a “Leader as Teacher” mean to you? How do you define it?
“None of us knows it all. Therefore, to teach others you must be a nonstop student yourself.” – Dani Brown
Dani Brown: To be a leader as teacher, you must be bold, take some risks and create a learning environment. So it can be a win-win, for the company and for the employee. I also believe that as a leader, you have a responsibility to not only develop others but yourself as well. None of us knows it all. Therefore, to teach others you must be a nonstop student yourself.
This boils down to a Learn-Do-Teach mindset:
This philosophy was shared with me early in my career by a prior boss and mentor, former DuPont CIO Phuong Tram, and I continue to practice it to this day.
Bill Fortwangler: To be a leader as teacher, present your actions and verbal and written statements in a way that people can use as examples. Make them want to replicate the way that you behave or handle situations. I use real situations that I have experienced and pass them along as a way to prepare for that scenario or situation, including pointing out what I did that was appropriate or what would I have done differently. Reality is the key to this. Real life situations are almost always more beneficial to learning.
Sue Kozik: Curiously, teaching was my early career plan, with both parents having taught school and having always placed a high value on education. So for me, helping others grow and develop is part of my DNA. The benefits of “teaching” and leading others is the satisfaction of seeing my team take on new responsibilities and step up to the challenges of enabling our healthcare business to interoperate seamlessly because of how we have architected effective and efficient technology solutions.
Teena Piccione: As a leader I must be a teacher. I must teach negotiation skills, loyalty, and optimization of time and process. Teams need to see their leader as a constant learner willing to step in and teach them how to think differently, seek understanding of others, and serve others well.
These kinds of soft skills are often taught in the hallways of buildings, where employees can learn how to take a step back and listen, and how to know when to push forward and when to pause, reflect, and change course. These are the teachable leader traits that must be taught so that other can successfully lead.
Ken Piddington: I look at being a leader as not just about providing the necessary guidance for today but also providing the learning opportunities that they will need to succeed tomorrow. I try to teach by sharing experiences and examples of both my successes and failures, and by helping them figure it out for themselves with guidance through questions.
Could you share some anecdotes or examples of when you’ve been a “Leader as Teacher”?
Bill Fortwangler: Most of the situations I find myself teaching are related to dealing with influencing the organization. This may be due to political or financial or strategic variables that the person I am teaching is not fully aware of, or they are not fully aware of the impact these variables have on what they are trying to influence.
Many associates think that their agenda is a slam dunk and that it’s very obvious how their agenda will have a positive impact on the organization. When you throw conflicting agendas or financial constraints or company politics into the mix, they aren’t prepared to make their argument. I have literally told people that I am showing them how this will work and how they think it should work. I run through multiple scenarios of what the stakeholders will ask and prepare data for those questions.
I usually overprepare, and they have found this to be a “lesson” in what to do to make sure you’re more likely to get a positive outcome from a meeting. Hours of prep time for a 30-minute meeting will begin to sink in as a way to be well rehearsed.
Claus Jensen: The very first time I held a townhall after having arrived at MSK, I asked my team for two things: I asked them to go with me on a learning journey, and I asked them as part of that journey to be willing to jump into the breach and “do battle” based on a vision rather than a specific defined destination.
Over the last nine months I have told the story of how this is a pivotal moment in the world of cancer and how we have the opportunity to define a new model that meets the needs of the whole human. I like to think that I have helped not just my own team but all of MSK learn to understand and appreciate what that opportunity is and how to pursue it. And, as an aside, in my last three executive jobs I have chosen to sponsor numerous learning activities as one of the most important investments to drive digital transformation.
Sue Kozik: Much of the work with do in IT is consultative: We provide analysis, advice, and solutions. I believe it is important to use every interaction as a moment to influence and educate.
As an example, during the rush to work from home during the pandemic, we could have simply equipped all employees with their current workstation and sent them home. That was the expectation. We were in the midst of rolling out Microsoft Teams in early 2020. We hadn’t finished all our testing, but we made the decision to use this crisis to enable all of our 2500 employees with not only access to their current tools to do their jobs but also a new way to collaborate. And while there were a few bumps along the way, we got rave reviews for using what we knew to anticipate some of the challenges our co-workers faced.
Was it risky to roll out a tool that wasn’t quite ready? Sure, but the upside of providing these new capabilities has allowed our organization to continue to be productive and deliver on our commitments to our community without disruption.
Teena Piccione: I remember one time I had a brilliant solution for speed of delivery, I had two different teams coding different parts of a solution to bring together. However, I learned one week prior to the delivery to the client that they coded in different languages that were not compatible.
I had to take a step back, and instead of yelling or punishing, I asked one team to design a solution so that this never would happen again and then open source the solution. I asked the other team to finish the coding. I then took the long walk to the client to buy more time. In that moment, I could have acted differently, but I had to lead and teach that when things go wrong, there is a solution, and you must keep searching to find it. It always inspires loyalty.
Another example in teaching is in serving. I serve. If I continuously keep a mindset of “how can I help,” then I am able to serve my teams and customers well.
One other example of teachable leadership is showing others that you are willing to listen and learn from others. I support teams worldwide, which can be challenging due to low-bandwidth issues and technology challenges. I have to be willing to listen to their problems and then determine a solution. However, if I make the decision in a vacuum without the input of the business and others, I might not be making the best decision. By teaching my leaders the importance of seeking understanding and listening to the problem, we ultimately can determine the best solution.
“I asked them to put themselves in the shoes of the audience they were presenting to and ask the question, ‘How do these metrics matter to my business unit?’ I challenged them to go back and craft a story that demonstrated the value being provided and not just say ‘We had five 9s of availability.’” – Ken Piddington
Ken Piddington: One really good story was when I believed there was an opportunity to take an internally developed IT solution to market. The idea was right, and the solution was good, but it wasn’t ready yet to compete in the market.
Of course, my team thought they had built the best solution ever. They weren’t wrong, but it needed some work for it to become a marketable product. I couldn’t just tell them what needed to be done or they would have gotten defensive. I needed them to figure it out on their own.
I decided to guide them through a product strategy and marketing exercise for a solution we owned and utilized daily. After completing the exercise for a known product on the market, I asked them to do the same exercise on their own for our product. A week or two later, the team showed me what they had come up with, and they had identified the gaps and the work necessary for our product to go to market. I provided the guidance with the exercise, giving them the tools they needed to come up with the correct answers.
Another good example was about communicating the value of the various solutions, services, and infrastructure we provide to the company. I was given a draft of a presentation my leadership wanted to present to the multiple business unit presidents. The goal of the presentation was to demonstrate all the ways IT was providing value to the different business units to get some additional funding.
The presentation was loaded with lots and lots of metrics, except none of them told a story that would be meaningful to what was important to the audience. Instead of saying “this won’t work,” I asked them to put themselves in the shoes of the audience they were presenting to and ask the question, “How do these metrics matter to my business unit?” I challenged them to go back and craft a story that demonstrated the value being provided and not just say “We had five 9s of availability.”
I also shared a story of my own failure and learning when I had made a mistake trying to use some metrics for a presentation with my CEO at a previous company — metrics that, in his mind, did not accurately reflect our business. Here I taught through asking questions and sharing a story of failure and the lessons learned from it.
What do you think are some of the everyday situations where CIOs have an opportunity to teach “on the fly”? How do you maintain that teaching mindset and be intentional about it?
Dani Brown: The intentionality comes by giving them room to grow and room to make mistakes. This includes providing the right opportunities/experiences; the right support (e.g., tools, training, mentors, etc.); and the room to make mistakes. You cannot ask people to step out on a limb and stretch themselves and then penalize them when they don’t knock it out of the park every single time.
Bill Fortwangler: It’s knowing when to sit back and let a situation take a shape based on you “sitting this one out” for a given period of time. Will your mentee step up and let the problem take on a shape of theirs, or will it start to fail?
If it starts to fail, it may be time to step in, and, hopefully, it won’t be too late to correct the direction. The mentee will have experienced a situation that they will not forget. I sometimes then tell people why I let a certain situation get to a point of intervention.
“If it starts to fail, it may be time to step in, and, hopefully, it won’t be too late to correct the direction. The mentee will have experienced a situation that they will not forget.” – Bill Fortwangler
Claus Jensen: It really starts with always having people at the top of your mind. If you look at a problem from the perspective of people, you quickly realize that if you have good teams, you don’t need to help them deliver the outcome; you simply need to teach them what the desired outcome is in the first place.
Always making sure that we are clear on what good looks like is perhaps the simplest way of making sure we continue to learn and evolve — simply because as the art of the possible evolves, so does the very definition of “good.”
Teena Piccione: Every day we are given opportunities to teach our teams verses dictating what they should do. But to do so we must be curious learners that are passionate about understanding what will make a difference.
Ken Piddington: For me it comes naturally because of who I am as a person and as a leader. I believe in Servant Leadership, and as such, I put the needs of my people first and help develop them to perform as highly as possible.
I have also been lucky enough to have had some great mentors and coaches throughout my life and career. I learned a lot from them and feel I have a responsibility to give back in similar ways. It is like the line in the Tim McGraw song “Humble and Kind” that says, “When you get where you’re going, don’t forget turn back around and help the next one in line.”
Sue Kozik: I learned a long time ago that my role is to enable people much smarter than me to help my organization.
How is being a teacher helping you elevate IT in the business?
Sue Kozik: There is so much more that technology can do to help our organization, but in order to do that well, we also have to have a deep understanding of the business. And as technology leaders, it is also our responsibility to distill the complexity of technology into business terms so that the business leaders can also understand the “art of the possible” with technology. It is only when we come together, that the magic happens and the solutions we develop have the intended impact.
So, being a leader in IT today is part marriage broker, ambassador, coach, juggler, and teacher. I’ve always believed that my ability to “influence without authority” is the most important competency I bring to the table. Using your position power might bring compliance, but not the culture of partnership or learning that we aspire to.
“There is so much more that technology can do to help our organization, but in order to do that well, we also have to have a deep understanding of the business.” – Sue Kozik
Ken Piddington: I remember sitting in a team meeting where the technology team was going to push a new solution to the business. I asked who they had worked with in the business. The comment was, they just need this tool. The answer never had a name. My response could have been to agree, but instead I had a teachable moment. I asked the tech team to go back and work with the business, partner with them so that they understood the benefits of the technology and were partners together in the solution.
Technology may be the solution, but if you do not take the time with the business and seek understanding of others and partner to put together solutions that matter, the technology solution will fail every time. The technology was still the right answer, but the approach made the solution possible, accepted, utilized and effortless.
Another example is when a technology team patches servers. No one typically cares in the business until you take down their systems that they are relying on. In the past, my team never communicated well or partnered with the business. I set up a meeting with my technology team and the business to facilitate a strategy on how to set up a beneficial schedule that everyone could agree with.
Was this in my job description? No, but it was teaching my team how to negotiate. This took time, patience, and education on both sides. However, the result was a well-thought-out plan that minimized impact to the business and still kept the servers patched and secure.
What do you gain from being a teacher? How does your organization benefit?
Dani Brown: We recently kicked off a development series for IT Leaders. When I spoke to the group, I shared my philosophy, that as a leader, one of the most important things they will do is develop leaders. It’s not the projects, the systems or the technology that they implement. In fact, there is technology today that I’m sure someone in the session has put in that we are now replacing. So that goes to show that the “things” are not enduring.
However, what is enduring is the development that you provide to others. It’s enduring because they will remember someone “pouring into them” and they in turn will then “pour into others.” That is enduring, and that is why seeing others develop is one of the joys of my job.
Bill Fortwangler: Selfishly, it will make my role easier if I can delegate more and feel confident that the delegation will be handled properly. The organization will build depth and people will be able to fill in more roles and gaps when people are over-allocated or they decide to move on to other adventures. We will also to be able to look at things with similar perspectives. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from passing on experiences and relevant important information that will help others make informed decisions.
Claus Jensen: A personal sense of accomplishment. I love teaching and I have ever since I was as assistant lecturer back at college. Stepping into a teaching role is a major amplifier. It is more important for me to help my team become as good as they can be than it is for me to help them solve a particular problem. Only by continuing to learn and grow can a team continue to be at its best. That is the power of teaching.
Sue Kozik: Seeing my team grow and the organization succeed with the help of our contributions is the reason I do what I do. It is rewarding to see the knitting together of various skills and experiences towards a bigger purpose.
When my nieces were ages 5-7, they asked what I do. This was well before the age of smartphones and iPads, so technology was not something they understood. I always remembered how I tried to “teach” them with my response. (My husband jokingly said, “She goes to meetings all day!”)
I responded that my job is to put puzzles together. I still think that is true. The puzzles are complicated — they involve people, business processes, policies and regulations, legacy technology, multiple and sometimes conflicting stakeholders, deadlines. For me, that is the challenge!
“We are all have the same 86,400 seconds a day but how we utilize our time will make a difference to our teams and the next generation.” – Teena Piccione
Teena Piccione: My company benefits from my teaching by learning, understanding, and increasing our market share through trying new ideas and pushing to for excellence. A company can sit back and rest on their success or continuously push to develop the next solutions that will rock the marketplace. This requires continuous teaching as to why things must be done and then negotiating how to get them done. It will increase staff loyalty, increase Net Promoter Scores, and ensure optimization of the teams.
I am a curious and constant learner, and I firmly believe that we are only bound by our imagination. I learn in order to teach. Technology changes constantly and I need to ensure I am educated and teaching my staff and the executive board in order to stay relevant in the market.
CIOs and technologists must become teachers, marketers, and solution providers. Executives have the fiduciary responsibility to teach the next generation, through one-on-one mentoring. We must also have diverse thought leadership, and in order to that, you must put diversity of gender and race in the room to make better rounded decisions. If I am teaching high schoolers and college students how to work, how to react, then I am serving the generation to ensure they understand what it means to lead. I have my interns at executive meetings so they can learn what happens, why, and how to respond.
We are all have the same 86,400 seconds a day but how we utilize our time will make a difference to our teams and the next generation. We must commit to passionately inspiring others on a daily basis and intentionally start the day by asking: How can I help? I live by GRIT – grace, resilience, inspiring others to innovate, and tenacity to get the job done well.
Ken Piddington: I gain the satisfaction of knowing I helped someone in some way, large or small, be that much better at what they do. I enjoy seeing people I’ve had the opportunity to provide some leadership guidance and teaching expand their capabilities, grow into a better leader themselves, and advance in their careers. Additionally, by being able to teach and build other great leaders, my teams become stronger and our company is better for it.
Hear more from these great IT leaders here.
What a month it’s been! Since countries around the world went on lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, job #1 for IT has been jumping into action, getting people connected, and building capacity. The digital transformation work IT organizations have been doing over the past few years has delivered in a big way as businesses have had to pivot to remote work while making sure day-to-day operations and customer engagements continue to run smoothly.
The slogan “digital first” was already gaining traction among forward-thinking companies, but this experience has proven that every company is going to need to adopt a digital first mantra going forward.
With the “firefighting” of the first few weeks behind us, CIOs and IT communications leaders are reflecting on where we are now, lessons learned, and what comes next. Moving out of a strictly reactive mode, they’re looking at how to capitalize on opportunities this new business environment offers, particularly as executives are now seeing more clearly than ever the value that IT brings to the business.
What follows are some of the themes shared by CIOs, senior IT leaders, and IT communications leaders in a recent virtual roundtable discussion about communicating in a crisis. For additional insights, download our report, IT Communications: 5 Lessons from an Essential CIO Partner.
IT’s ability to step up has created huge brand equity for IT across the rest of the organization. One of the biggest values that’s come out of this crisis is how much organizations in general took IT for granted. Now they realize IT brings tangible value in terms of collaboration, productivity, and the interconnectedness of systems and data.
It’s up to IT to communicate that value in a way that speaks to the business while leading the transformation necessary to keep the organization future-focused and well-positioned for what’s to come.
Learn more about marketing a technology organization and communicating IT’s value.
When the average person is bombarded with 10,000 messages a day, how do you make sure yours are the ones people remember?
With the digital disruption cycle now at less than three years, the digital age is going to be a winner-take-all environment where the speed of business is accelerating—and “fast” followers are too slow.
Against this backdrop is a growing communication challenge: We have much more information to communicate and more channels to consider, with limited windows of opportunity, continually accelerating rates of change, and limited bandwidth to get the right messages to the right people at the right time.
Today’s technology leaders have to become a voice of the brand, able to communicate effectively and persuasively to a variety of stakeholders, both internally and externally, about the value that IT delivers. Now more than ever, no IT leader can afford to neglect their communications responsibilities. The stakes are too high.
In a two-part series for IT Pack, O&A’s Dan Roberts explores the 4 pillars of great communication that every technology executive must master, and he shares 5 practical tips that will help you become a next-level communicator—and a next-level leader—so that you can turn your vision into reality.
Dan also had a chance to the pick the brains of a number of IT Communications leaders who are partnering with CIOs and technology executives at organizations like Asurion, Boeing, Dignity Health, Mattel, Union Bankshares, and more. They shared their best tips, takeaways, and insights on how to communicate IT’s value in a way that gets the business to stand up and take notice. Download this illuminating new report: IT Communications: 5 Lessons from an Essential CIO Partner.
What are you doing to proactively change the narrative and communicate the art of the possible? With IT’s end-to-end view of the enterprise, we have an unprecedented opportunity to lead the conversation, paint a picture of the future, and drive the disruption that will future-proof our organizations.
Businesses that fully embrace digital transformation are reaping the benefits. In addition to reducing costs and increasing efficiencies, these companies are redefining and reinventing the customer value proposition to strengthen their competitive foothold and disrupt their industries in the process.
And their IT organizations are leading the way. One critical factor these high-performing IT organizations have in common is their laser-like focus on building the core soft skills required to support the business and continually move further up the IT Maturity Curve.
But in a hyper-digital world that’s changing at a relentless pace, the pressure to stay up-to-date with technical and core skills is mounting, and so is the pressure to retain top talent. Across the more than 3,500 diverse IT organizations O&A has worked with, leaders are increasingly concerned about whether or not they have the in-house skills and talent to support these critical business transformation efforts.
A ‘digitalized terrain awash in emerging technologies’
That’s how Gartner recently described today’s business environment. While IT is leading the way on digital transformation, in this ever-changing digital climate, everyone across the organization needs to be able to embrace, understand, and use digital technologies in their work — because as McKinsey’s report on the future of work in America puts it, “The day-to-day nature of work could change for nearly everyone as intelligent machines become fixtures in the American workplace.”
Closing the digital skills gap is now a top priority as companies scramble to play catch up. They realize this widening gap is not only going to hold back their digital transformation efforts; it will hold back talented employees who lack the necessary skills to adapt to the new realities of work.
The upshot of all this is a growing emphasis on building digital fluency. True digital fluency involves understanding the entire digital landscape and being able to appropriately and confidently select technology to solve a business problem. Being digitally fluent often means being an effective communicator who’s competent at pushing forward an implementation and encouraging adoption.
Put simply, people who are digitally fluent are able to understand and use digital technology while possessing the key soft skills necessary to drive business functions.
Digital Fluency: How does your organization stack up?
It’s important to design your digital fluency initiatives within the context of your current capabilities, strengths, and gaps. The IT Skill Builder platform is a great place to start for evaluating workforce data, in-demand skills, and existing talent to get a clear picture of your digital readiness. It also includes a comprehensive library of microlearning modules that specifically target these areas, from “Managing Big Data in Your Organization” to “Creating a Customer Service Culture.”
Now’s the time to get serious about digital fluency! Let us know if you need help navigating this terrain.
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