CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 17

learn from it?" Everybody makes mistakes. It's not the
mistake that's important; it's what you learn from it and
how you recover from it that count.

How important is it in today's
technological and business
environment to try different things and
have experience in different fields and
domains?
I think my broad business experience is what most
helped me succeed as a leader in IT. If you have not
worked in the business you support, you should find a
way to make that happen. IT should always be focused
on driving business value. If you can't articulate how the
tools you provide will make the business run better or
more efficiently, there will be limits to how successful
you will be.
But having said that, I have found that the times I was
most effective as a leader were when I knew the least.
One day, when I was still fairly new in my CIO role, a
young woman who had worked for me in accounting
and followed me over to IT came up to me and said,
very fortunate that I got pushed out of my comfort zone.

"You're a much better leader in IT than you were when

A lot of people are afraid to put themselves out there,

we were in accounting." I said, "How can you say that?

and particularly so when they are a minority. Women

When I was in accounting, I was a subject matter expert.

feel that they don't have the same safety nets that men

I felt like I knew exactly what I was doing. Here, it's

do. If they fail, it's going to be final. But we overestimate

very uncomfortable for me because I feel like I'm so

the consequences of failure. If you want to be all that you

dependent on other people." She said, "When we were in

can be, you must try new things. Those failures are not

accounting, you were the subject matter expert and you

failures; they're feedback on what doesn't work.

tended to micromanage everything we did. You tended

They help us to be successful on the next try. Babe
Ruth hit 714 career home runs, but if you go back and

to make all the decisions. Here, you are truly leading.
You listen to the people around you. You talk to

look at the records, he struck out twice as many times as

external experts about what direction we need to go

he hit home runs. There were many years when he led

in and the new tools that are becoming available. And

the league in strikeouts. But he was willing to get up to

then you ask for our input. You take all of that into

the plate. He swung, and if he didn't get a hit, he learned

consideration before you make decisions." That's what

what didn't work, so he could be successful on the next

leadership is about. Leadership is about how you listen

try. Careers are exactly the same way. You have to get

to your team and surround yourself with people who

the experiences that then qualify you to move up the

have knowledge that you may not have. Nobody can

corporate ladder.

know it all in today's world. The higher up you go in a

When I coach young people for interviews, I tell them

job, the less it's about you and the more it's about who you

to prepare for one really important question: "What's

surround yourself with. How you listen to people, how

the biggest mistake you've ever made, and what did you

you motivate them, and how you communicate with them.

CIO Straight Talk | 17



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6

Contents
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - Cover1
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - Contents
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 3
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 4
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 5
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 6
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CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - InsertA
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CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - InsertB
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CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - Cover3
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - Cover4
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