5 things you should never say to your CIO

These are some things you might feel tempted to say, some you might even on occasion have actually said, but trust me, these are things you should never say to your CIO – even if you are a Board Director yourself!

1.  I’m having trouble with my email/laptop/phone… can you fix it for me?
Your CIO is not a one-person technical support service.  He or she does not attend Board meetings in order to sort out your personal technology issues. He’s there to work on the business strategy – aren’t you?

2.  I’ve forgotten my password… again
Let’s get something straight. Your password is your responsibility. People who continually forget their passwords are the bane of any IT Support team. It’s not funny. It’s not endearing. It’s a demonstration that you can’t be trusted with their precious technology. The CIO is tired of the Help Desk grumbling about unknown people who keep on needing their passwords re-set. Keep your head down…

3.  Why is it taking so long? I can download a new app onto my pc at home in less than an hour…
Your pc at home is under your control. Your pc at work is not. Had you forgotten that? Well I suppose if you can forget your password you can forget anything. That shiny new app you want for your team has to be checked out – we don’t want to crash the whole network do we? It also might be way down the priority list compared to other ‘business critical’ updates, innovations and installations.  Organisation-wide technology is a complex beast – that’s why we have Enterprise Architects. (What do you mean you’ve never heard of them?)

4.  If your guys can’t do it this month I know a company who will take it on.
Nooooooo! Every IT department has a constant battle to keep control of the technology being used.  And the suppliers. You may think it’s no big deal to bring in your personal contacts to run up a few web pages or install a new CRM programme, but to your CIO it’s a nightmare. What if your external supplier hacks into something he shouldn’t? What if the new installation conflicts with another app? What if the whole network goes down? On second thoughts, perhaps you should say it, and then he’ll know who to keep an eye on!

5.  Any reference to those ‘geeks and freaks’ in the IT department.
They may seem like geeks and freaks to you, but they’re the CIO’s own geeks and freaks and he loves them. Furthermore, it’s likely he used to be one of them. And if you stop to actually speak to any of them you’ll probably discover that they’re not freaks at all. They’re just cleverer than the rest of us – and quieter. They don’t need a bomb putting under them. They don’t need to ‘get out more’. They just need some well-earned respect for keeping us all provided with the vital technology to do our jobs.

…and for enabling you to read my on-line blog!

[Video] Managing a virtual team

So many people these days talk about being part of a virtual team, and I think one of the most difficult things to do is to be the manager of a team that's not based in one central location.

The big question is… how do you create a team spirit, how do you keep everybody involved and included when you're not in the same building?

I think the answer to that is going to vary from person to person and from team to team. But one of the things I've found useful is this…














Capability or Credibility?

I’ve been working in Management and Executive Development for over 20 years now and I’ve never been more convinced of the importance to businesses of having capable leaders. In challenging times, we all want managers and leaders who can deliver results.

What I’ve realised recently is that the key is not in the capability of our managers and leaders but in their credibility. And these are two entirely different things.

Capability is about what you can do and what you can achieve. It relates to potential and perhaps to
past history. Credibility is about what other people believe you can do and believe you will do. Credibility is what inspires other people to follow your lead, not capability.

Ok, it’s not easy to get credibility without capability. I’m not saying we don’t need capability. It’s just that capability alone won’t change anything. The epitome of this is the Senior Manager who spends several years of valuable time studying for an MBA, writes a superb dissertation and does absolutely nothing different with all their new knowledge.

In fact, acquiring extra capability and not using it can detract from a person’s credibility quite dramatically. Think about it – do you really respect the person with the MBA if you don’t see any change in what they do after the course?

Come to that, it’s not just about the MBAs. If a person attends any kind of training programme and no increase in results is visible, it can be damaging to their credibility. And yet, lots of managers and leaders shy away from doing something different, because they are afraid of receiving a barrage of ridicule and cynicism: “Been on a course, have you?”

Is this why some Senior HR Practitioners think that leadership and management training doesn’t work? Well, it’s true that not all training makes an appreciable difference to leadership behaviour.

Could that be because the trainers don’t have sufficient credibility to inspire leaders and managers to do something new?

Credibility comes not just from having the capability to do something or from a string of qualifications, but from the choices we make, the actions we take and from the results we achieve.

The manager who avoids difficult situations or who waits too long to tackle a problem will lose credibility very quickly. The one who acknowledges the problem even if he doesn’t have an immediate solution will gain more credibility than the one who seems to have his head in the sand.

In difficult times we don’t just need managers who can get things done. We need leaders we can believe in.