Heres the drivel that comes out of the industrys press:
CIOs should understand the business
CIOs should understand technology
CIOs should practice management best practices
CIOs should have good communications skills
CIOs should be good leaders
Lists like these remind me of the television commercial that has the golfer Phil Michelson sitting with his fans who have agreed to offer him some advice: I think you should hit the ball farther, the first fan says. Then the other fan says, I think you should hit it straighter. Longer and straighter, Phil says, got it.
Chief Information Officers (CIOs) especially when they are part of their companys Executive Council (EC) should know all of the above and then some. Do we really need to tell them what they should already know? Do I have to read articles, year after year, that list the skills and competencies that CIOs should have to be successful?
Its almost as though their editors have given every cub reporter the same a rite-of-passage assignment: go forth and tell the world what the CIO should be able to do and we will publish your take (the 1,000,000th take) on what the perfect CIO should look like.
So lets describe the really perfect CIO. I will not be providing anther obvious list of skills and competencies. Instead, Ill profile the nuances that make all the difference in the world.
I am assuming that they already know about business, technology and management. While I realize that this assumption is flawed, I just cannot state the obvious again. So lets go with the counter-intuitive and the unspoken dirty-little-secret-based reality of executive qualities in 21st century America.
In fact, really perfect CIOs can whiff all of the above competencies if they master the following.
First and foremost, regardless of the sex of the CIO, there must be really good hair. Bald CIOs, CIOs with hard hair and CIOs whose hair has multiple colors cannot succeed. While good hair is not necessary and sufficient for success (note Mitt Romneys failed presidential bid even with the worlds best hair), its a strong predictor of success.
(Dont believe me? How many bald presidents have we had? Reagan had great hair. Kennedys was even better. Bill Clintons hair was good. Carters was OK. The Bush boys also had good hair. Obamas hair is the perfect length and color. Only Gerald Ford and Dwight Eisenhower were bald but Ford was never elected president and Eisenhower was a war hero [who is allowed to be bald]).
Next comes the smile. It needs to appear to be genuine, exposing very white teeth. If youre a CIO and you havent had your teeth whitened, its time to visit the dentist. Smiling faces make people happy. Frowning faces even if theres good reason to frown make people uneasy.
Hes miserable! These are two words you do not want people to mutter when you enter a room.