Five Recommendations for CIOs Leading IT Through a Crisis

Five Recommendations for CIOs Leading IT Through a Crisis

During the COVID-19 crisis, IT teams played the role of corporate superheroes, accelerating digital strategies to keep their businesses running. The credit for the excellent execution goes to IT leaders, but CIOs understand that success is temporary and stability is precarious.

According to a recent survey done by Genpact and the MIT CIO Sloan Symposium, 68 percent of 500 CIOs surveyed believe their departments are not fully prepared to assist their organizations endure another big business disruption. The poll was designed to assess the lessons learnt by IT leaders in weathering the disruption, as well as their readiness for the road ahead.

Transformation pilot CIOs that foster C-suite alignment and focus on creating resilience and innovation will be the co-creators of new business models and future-ready enterprises. CIOs who fail to do so will see their companies struggle.

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Here are Five Recommendations for CIOs Leading IT Through a Crisis

Leading with empathy

For quite some time, consultants have harped on CIOs to enhance their soft skills. Now is the time for IT leaders to show empathy, as peers, colleagues, and subordinates grapple with a variety of pandemic-related health concerns, economic problems, and political unrest. CIOs who are used to having a firm hold on their enterprises should opt for a gentler approach instead of “command and control” leadership.

Building relationships

Getting to know one’s team is an important part of leading with empathy. It’s crucial to have strong relationships with the co-workers and business partners if CIOs want everyone to work together. Every year, holding one-on-one meetings with employees may help CIOs learn a lot about the firm and the team, while also letting employees know that they are valued and that their executives aren’t sitting in an “ivory tower.”

Pre-reads and storyboards

CIOs can request a pre-read – simply a description of what the presenter intends to discuss. In fact, before presenting to the board of directors, CIOs can provide such pre-reads too. This allows participants to reflect on the topic and formulate important questions.

It may sound simple, but it all boils down to comprehending the story IT leaders want to tell and the feedback they want to receive. Another wise approach to employ is storyboarding, which entails creating a narrative of what the leaders want to convey rather than a list of bullets and actions in order to improve meeting outcomes.

Aligning OKRs between business and tech teams

Business lines like to highlight their own product objectives and key results (OKRs), but this might obstruct business alignment. CIOs must ask if their team is aligned with the rest of the firm?  What criteria do they use to determine how successful they are as a team? They should then unite around OKRs to assist in achieving targeted business goals, which is critical during a period of frequent disruptions.

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Being strategic when it comes to change management

Employees are fearful about losing their employment as a result of automation’s steady march across the industry. Is my job going to be automated? What if it does? What will happen to me? These are legitimate concerns, and CIOs must be prepared to respond.

CIOs must take steps to ease people’s anxieties, they must loop in stakeholders on the competitive advantages of their team’s work early and often, and seek input to secure buy-in and feed the human hunger to be appreciated. In short, it is critical to integrate change management into the business fabric rather than seeing it as a one-time event for each project.

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Prangya Pandab is an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. She is a seasoned journalist with almost seven years of experience in the business news sector. Before joining ODM, she was a journalist with CNBC-TV18 for four years. She also had a brief stint with an infrastructure finance company working for their communications and branding vertical.