How to Become an Influential Digital Leader

From the internal IT department to the boardroom, to the broader market, modern CIOs need to be able to influence a wide range of people. The success of a CIO will be directly linked to his ability to rally to his vision.

But how can CIOs get people to follow their command without being overly commanding? Five experts share best practices for influential digital leadership.

1. Present excellent results

Alex von Schirmeister, Head of Digital Technology and Innovation at RS Components, recognizes that ordering without control is a difficult balance to achieve. “I wish I could say I have a 100% success rate all the time – influencing people is a very difficult thing to do, I try to do things right, but sometimes I can not do it” recognizes it.

However, key tactics exist. “Use concrete facts,” says von Schirmeister. “It’s easy to influence a person when you can show them through the data how something has worked, so the argument for the decisions you make is very clear.”

Another approach for CIOs seeking to assert their influence is to ensure that their team and themselves establish credibility. “It’s easier to influence people if you’ve had success in a field or if you’ve proven most often that you’re right,” says von Schirmeister.

“Give something back – show how experimentation and testing in a market can help demonstrate how success can spread globally – use the fact that you have a history to show how things could work in other areas. “

2. Be honest and humble

Like von Schirmeister, Gideon Kay – European IT Director at Dentsu Aegis Network – believes that IT managers need to be aware that board members have more and more a vision of technology, just as they would for sales, marketing, and operations. Kay says that CIOs need to see this new interest in digital transformation as an opportunity to exert influence.

“You do not need to bite your lips,” says the DSI. “Once you have established your credibility, which needs to be done fairly quickly, and provided you have a reputation for explaining the technology in the right way, that is to say, to speak in terms of business and business impact, you can then give the company the definitive line on technology.”

For Kay, CIOs can use their experience to determine which services the company should be concerned about and which ones do not matter: “These are things that are burning, and those that are not. “

“You have to be humble and honest – once you’ve built a reputation, you can be honest and say you’re not sure about the impact of technology on the business. you should be honest, that’s very important. “

3. Use success as a catalyst for success

Peter Ironside, Director for KPMG, believes that the more open and transparent we can be as CIOs, the better. “IT leaders who are inspiring have a lot of confidence in them,” he says.

“They understand the technology, but more critical, they can then turn it into a business language and focus on the element that will create the most value. They focus on the customer – they are confident and ready to go out of business. their comfort zone and want to drive change in the rest of the business. “

According to Ironside, CIOs must avoid falling into the trap of hiring and buying technology without knowing what the likely outcome will be for the company. Before paying cash, CIOs need to invest time in finding one or two use cases where digital can make a financial difference.

“Find the examples in terms of transformation” recommends Ironside. “If you manage to get a few, these successes will become a magnet for other areas of the company, and ultimately, it’s the bottom line and the bottom line that make the difference.”

4. Encourage voluntary collaboration

Albert Ellis, General Manager of Recruitment Specialist Harvey Nash, acknowledges that it can be difficult to order people without controlling them. According to him, in many ways, the ability to influence is an innate ability.

“You have the skills or you do not have them” slice it. “You can learn certain elements, but being able to influence a group of individuals is a huge asset to any leader.”

Ellis believes that CIOs should not fall into the trap of believing that their word necessarily matters most. If you work in a company with a hierarchical structure, it is very easy to think wrongly that you always influence people, which may not be the case, warns Ellis.

“Because of the top-down culture, the collaborators just listen, obey and try to carry out the leader’s instructions Influencing is a very different situation that requires a voluntary collaboration component, which is different from downward management, “he says.

Trusting in her experiences, Ellis concludes that the best way to encourage others to follow your example is to meet them face to face and talk about options. “If you try to influence the different parts, you have to bring them together.”

5. Bring everyone on the same path

Richard Corbridge, CDO, and CIO of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust face a different leadership challenge than his peers in the private sector. Rather than just influencing members of the digital department or the board, Corbridge also needs to ensure that a broad set of clinicians and healthcare professionals can understand the value of IT investment.

Internally, Corbridge is working hard to ensure that NHS Trust stakeholders fully support its priorities. “We do a lot of presentation work,” he says.

“We use the clinical commitment and support individuals in their journey of transformation, to make sure that everyone goes on the same journey with us Everyone needs to understand the result and what we are trying to achieve. “

This collaborative effort includes a range of techniques. Corbridge highlights, in particular, its current work around the Digital Ward, where the Trust presents a range of hospital-based systems and services that could be used in the care process.

“Our intention is to use it as a model for the rest of the organization, which understands why it is worth investing time and effort into digital transformation,” he explains. “They can come to Digital Ward and see the ultimate potential and benefits of our work.”