The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results

Graham Waller, George Hallenbeck, Karen Rubenstrunk

Published by

Harvard Business Review Press





Reviewed by

Dean Burnell MBCS CITP


9 out of 10

CIO EdgeThe acceptance and establishment of the role of the CIO has been a long-fought battle. For a long time the role of technology was perceived as a service provider rather than a true strategic tool for competitive advantage.

The CIO Edge explores what it is that makes CIOs successful; in summary, the findings are that IT knowledge and technical skills are of secondary importance - it is soft skills the building of relationships and the ability to communicate in all directions (peers, seniors and reports) that distinguish a good CIO from a great one.

The book is based on extensive research and interviews with CIOs from a number of large organisations including FedEx, P&G and AXA. The authors present the information they collated from their research in the form of seven key principles:

  1. Commit to leadership first, everything else second.
  2. Lead differently than you think.
  3. Embrace your softer side.
  4. Forge the right relationships, drive the right results.
  5. Master communications: always and all ways.
  6. Inspire others.
  7. Build people, not systems.

The book is aimed at current and aspiring CIOs, but the concepts highlighted would be relevant to anyone in a leadership role (inside or outside of the IT profession). The book is packed with inspiring and insightful examples and testimonials from highly respected CIOs; many of which are refreshingly open about the mistakes they have made and what they have learnt along the way.

Some of the enduring messages from the book are the importance of human relationships; the importance of staff development; the need to lead by example. Throughout the book a key theme is that anything of value is only ever achieved ‘through people, by people and with people’.

The book feels contemporary as it makes relevant references to the ever-changing nature of the CIO role and the need to respond to an increasingly connected and socially integrated world - all of which has implications for the CIO and the wider enterprise.

The way the book is split into seven chapters means it is approachable and a very enjoyable read. Each chapter includes a summary and a set of steps and activities to support development of the skills described. As already mentioned, the principles of leadership described in this book are universal and despite the title, this book would be a very worthwhile read for anyone in a senior management position.

Further Information: Harvard Business Review Press

January 2011