If your CEO is happy with your work, then you should be happy too, right? Maybe not. Forrester Research recently asked CEOs what they thought of their IT organization, and their answers, outlined in the report “Closing the CEO-CIO Gap”, were surprising. The good news: 59 per cent of the 71 respondents (who represented companies with more than US$100 million in revenue) were either satisfied or very satisfied with IT’s performance. But at the same time, just 28 per cent of the CEOs reported that IT was proactive regarding business innovation, and just 30 percent called IT proactive on process improvement. That’s bad news.

The CIO must take an active part in moving the company forward, the report states, or the IT department – and the CIO’s career – will stagnate. “If you maintain the status quo and change nothing, that ultimately results in decline,” says Laurie Orlov, Forrester VP and principal analyst and the report’s primary author.

What’s Forrester’s advice for CIOs, beyond the usual directives to get IT people out in the business trenches, and make sure IT is connected to the business strategy? First, if you’re doing more than the CEO realizes, market your achievements. And if the CEO and other execs don’t understand what you’re doing, educate them.

Don’t alienate other execs with techspeak. When the CEO felt the CIO was a good or excellent communicator, she was more likely to view him as a proactive leader on process improvement (41 per cent, versus 30 per cent overall).