Line of Business Leaders and the CIO - 5 Tips for a Successful Relationship

As you read this, you have probably just finished jettisoning, or at the very least ignoring the last of the New Year’s resolutions you have made (or your partner made for you).  Before you fall back into familiar patterns, let me discuss one major resolution you should strive to keep this year.

If you haven’t got a seat at the senior leadership table, let’s make this year the one in which you move closer to getting invited.  If you are already on the senior leadership team, let’s work on strengthening your position and not become marginalized.  (It can happen.  In the Canadian College system, several CIOs have recently lost their direct report to the President and now report to the Administrative head.)

Working well with your colleagues (or soon to be colleagues) at the leadership table is key to your success.  Each of them represent a key line of business or operational function within your organization and you are in a unique role to represent the one line that touches each of their areas in a way that will help them achieve their goals.  (I know that Finance also touches each area, but it is more of a cost control and management function than an enable and empower ability that IT can bring.)

Now here comes the touchy/feely part… you have to build relationships with your colleagues.  I know that for some of you, you would rather lick the paint off the wall than divert from your task-oriented, introverted tribe of technical types rather than schmooze with the head of marketing or HR.

This my friends is the price of admission, and not such a bad thing.  After all, I'm not suggesting you become best friends or invite them on a vacation.  I'm suggesting that CIOs need to work on developing professional relationships with their colleagues on the leadership team.

Here are five tips for doing so: