Leadership roles appear in almost every organization. The concept of leadership is primarily about dealing with the intangible and problematic areas of the organization. Although actual specific responsibilities can be delegated to the members of the organization, leadership is necessary for facing the challenges imposed by uncertainties. With all the rapid changes in the internal and external environment, organization leadership must be calibrated to be able to adapt to such changes. Traditional, conservative forms of leadership were tweaked to match the more complex challenges that are present in these modern times. Substantial changes in the organization framework, strategies, environment and information technology calls for an equally (or even advanced) significant changes in leadership. The concepts of leadership and management are often intermingled, resulting in a general perception that today’s organizations are “over-managed and under-led”.
Modern organization leaders are tasked with four primary responsibilities:
- Reimaging: creating an organizational vision
- Reshaping: planning on how to operate the organization
- Realization: allocating and utilizing necessary resources in order to achieve the vision of the organization
- Renewal: tracking and enhancing the performance of the organization
As organizations face complex changes in their internal and external environment, their information technology (IT) must also change. One of the primary roles in the planning and deployment of IT systems is that of the chief information officer (CIO). The primary responsibility of the CIO is to ensure that a particular IT system is properly utilized by the organization as one of its strategies. Moreover, he also plays an active part in the monitoring of the IT system(s). He may also be tasked to handle the information resources of the organization. The leadership role of the CIO is supported by the fact that he is part of the senior management team of the organization. Because he is mainly responsible for the efficient IT operations, he must also understand the ins and outs of the business.
The role of the CIO should be supported by the belief of the senior management in the importance of information as an essential organization resource. Information must be strategically treated just like how other resources e.g. human resources and corporate finances are allocated and utilized. The leadership role played by the CIO must be aligned with organization leadership played by the senior management group. The CIO must track the progress of the IT system and assess whether such progress is on track with the goals and objectives of the organization. As such, the CIO should necessarily have adequate leadership knowledge, skills, and experience so as to perform his functions well and properly designate responsibilities to his subordinates. His involvement in the field of technology necessitates innovation and motivational skills. The CIO must be able to recognize technological changes which can be applied to further enhance the efficiency of the organization. He must be responsive to internal and external challenges to provide immediate solutions and strategic initiatives. Moreover, he must have coaching skills so as to promote innovation in his team.
The effective CIO is no longer simply a technologist, but must be a business leader first, capable of talking about technology in terms of company strategy. He or she should be a fully integrated leader of senior management, able to proactively offer answers to questions and solutions to business problems.
Although the role of the CIO is currently taken in lower regard than other management roles traditionally held in organizations, consistent changes in technology and the increasing recognition of the importance of information as an organizational resource could emphasize the significance of CIOs. The role of the CIO could evolve into something that is more dependent on information rather than technology, but information technology knowledge must still be maintained. Currently, the role of the CIO is to lead people to the proper utilization of IT in the organization.