The recent Deliotte CIO survey uncovered a fascinating fact. According to the survey results, there are three CIO archetypes – trusted operators, business co-creators, and change instigators. CIOs who play the role of trusted operators are focused on improving efficiency, reliability, predictability, and cost reduction. The business co-creator archetype aligns all the IT resources and operations in line with the organization’s strategic objectives. Then there is the change agent, who is the disrupter. This CIO archetype is focused on bringing about real change through constant innovation. Only one of them can survive in the future. Can you guess who? The more important question is – which one is you?

Incremental Change is Just Not Enough Anymore

The technology landscape is evolving so rapidly that there is no time for IT departments or for entire companies to get complacent with any particular technology. Further, they have to continually evolve their processes, i.e. they have to be at the cutting edge of the technological innovation. With end users becoming increasingly fickle in their choice of services, usage, and preferences, only the ability of IT to cater to their changing needs will help it stay relevant in the future.

For this to happen, incremental improvements in efficiencies, cost reductions, and other such baby steps are not enough. Disruptive changes within the organization that reflect the changing external environment have to become a norm, rather than an act of emergency. For instance, even the trusted operators archetype CIOs drive change. They improve the efficiency, reliability, and performance of operations and systems. But, such changes are mere substitutions, not evolution. To achieve evolution, something more is needed.

And that is a Clear Vision. Also the Ability to Communicate It

There is a very fine line between being agile and being fickle. Often, the distinction is not very clear. A leader who is constantly changing can be considered as capricious. They might come off as someone who lacks a strategic objective for the company, and someone who is only trying to stay afloat. Such misunderstandings may convince others that this is perhaps a sign of an impending doom, and might force them to pursue employment opportunities elsewhere.

This can be avoided by effectively communicating the grand vision the leader has for the company. When others are aware of the big picture, they will be comfortable with the ever-changing processes and operations of the company. They will understand that the decisions are not taken willy-nilly by the leaders, but there is a goal they are aiming for and are taking the road they consider the best to reach it. So, it is entirely upon the leadership to be able to convey their complete vision for the company to others. Only then they will be able to be an effective change initiator and manager.

Trust is Everything

There are two aspects of trust in a professional environment – trust in the leadership’s ability and trust in their character. The members of an organization should have complete trust in the leadership’s ability and wisdom. It is not too infrequent for the employees to feel that their superiors are completely cut off from the ground realities. In such a case, any change that the leaders try to bring in will be seen as a misadventure by the uninformed. Leaders should command the respect of their team members by demonstrating their knowledge and the ability to deliver results. In fact, the best way to lead a change is through leading by example. Others will follow suit when they are convinced of the leadership’s credibility.

The second aspect of trust in leadership is the trust in their character. This type of trust is only cultivated through strong relationships with the team members. The change agents should be easily approachable and should be more than willing to guide people through the change. Indeed, the default approach to promoting change within the organization should be through guidance and not through authority. Authority will court resistance. Guidance will foster respect. This nature of workplace relationship will help initiate more changes in the future, as the team members will become more trusting of the change agent.