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Pitfalls to Avoid If You Are a New CIO

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CIOInsider Team

Whether this is your first CIO role or you’re already well-versed in the nuances of the job requirements, the first days can pose challenges, present surprises and produce a healthy amount of paperwork to wade through. Initial days are also a crucial period during which newly incumbent CIOs should learn from commonly made mistakes, avoid pitfalls and flourish in a new role. Incoming CIOs have around 100 days to set themselves up with a smooth runway to success. Well, if it’s some relief, is that countless CIOs have already gone through the rigmarole and made the mistakes so that you

don’t have to. There are five common mistakes a new CIO should try to avoid. The first one concerns ego. So far, you’ve proven your CIO credentials to interviewers and HR –but to the rest of your new team, stakeholders, peers and suppliers, you remain an unknown entity. While it’s tempting, resist the urge to establish credibility by sharing anecdotes of success from previous roles. Arrogance will not curry favour.

It’s important to note, unless a serious crisis is unfolding, waiting a couple of weeks to implement significant changes won’t make a huge difference. Acting too soon, however, might cause lasting damage which then requires rework, redesign or repair. And while new CIOs are often tempted to criticise the legacy of the previous CIO, they should refrain from being too condemning. Existing employees, such as the IT team, might feel targeted by such criticisms. While you have been hired for your beginner’s mind and critical faculties, temper criticisms early on, and wait to deploy them until you’re certain you can improve on what you’re criticising. Find wise counsel before you begin your new role, assemble a small, strategic team of trusted counsellors to advise you on matters of company politics. Draw a variety of people who know you well, from industry experts to powerful figures in your new organisation who are invested in your success. Their advice can help you avoid making glaring missteps, or acting counter to your new organisation’s culture, norms and policies. CIOs transitioning into a new role find themselves in a high-risk situation. The tactics you tryout during this transition period will ultimately enrich your leadership toolkit and help you thrive in a new CIO role from the outset.

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