What do you believe in? Does your team know what to expect from you? Have you clearly communicated your expectations? Are you being the best CIO that you can be?

For CIOs, expectations have never been higher. The pace of technology and business change has multiplied and the margin for missteps has been dramatically reduced. As technology champions, we are expected to focus on the productive use of information technology within our respective businesses to improve customer experience, reduce costs and enable growth. As business leaders, we are driven to understand the challenges and opportunities to make positive and meaningful contributions leveraging our internal teams, our external partners and our key stakeholders.

Each CIO must make their own journey and set their own path and priorities based on the circumstances that they encounter. For me, as I moved from one senior leadership position to another, it was important for me to articulate who I am and what I believe in for my new team to establish the proper expectations. There is nothing necessarily unique or startlingly new here, but collectively these beliefs represent who I strive to be and the leadership culture I want to create for the greater benefit of the organization and the people within it.

So for what is it worth, here are my top 10 leadership beliefs, which are based on my career experiences as a CIO and from what I learned from Jim Collins in his two books Built to Last and Good to Great.

I believe that great leaders must:

  1. Know yourself (Emotional Intelligence)
  2. Do to others as you would have them do to you (Trust, Integrity & Respect)
  3. Provide a sense of vision and mission for your team (Perspective, Context & Elevation)
  4. Communicate well and often (Communicator)
  5. Get the right people on the “bus” and then get them in the right seats (Team Builder)
  6. Confront the brutal facts of reality with an unfaltering belief in a positive outcome (Realistic & Positive)
  7. Provide open and honest feedback in a respectful and helpful manner (Coach)
  8. Develop your people for their own good and the greater good of the organization (Team Player)
  9. Never stop stretching, learning and growing (Self Development)
  10. Take the time to “smell the roses” and have some fun along the way (Genuine & Energetic)

Leadership beliefs for each CIO will be different. It doesn’t matter how many there are or the sequence in which they are listed. What is important is that you take the time to define your own leadership beliefs and then communicate them. The most critical part of the entire process is to actually believe in them and to make them part of your daily mode of operation. Leadership is personal, so authenticity is vital to making it real and valuable.

In an environment of never-ending challenges and increasing expectations, CIOs need every advantage possible to help them be successful. In this regard, what are your leadership beliefs and do your key stakeholders understand and support them? It can be well worth the effort to improve your executive effectiveness and your career longevity as a CIO.

Give it a try. What have you got to lose?


  1. Gary has articulated some very thoughtful perspectives and excellent advice. For me, leadership is executing responsibility for the success of others and a strong sense of self is very helpful in providing genuine, consistent leadership – especially in complex situations. This is effective for both oneself and for those for whom one is responsible. I would add to his advice that “Saying ‘Thanks’ to those who have contributed (Recognition and Celebration)” is perhaps an important element of this list as well. It is also important occasionally to check your own value set against the organization’s value set. Any conflicting aspects should be addressed or they will eventually erode credibility of either you or the organization.


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