CIO Leadership

This One Difference Determines Your Influence As A CIO

Two keys will communicate your competence and reinforce your credibility. But it all starts with one major difference maker.

Scott Smeester


May 16, 2024

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People know what you are doing.

Do people know that you know what you are doing?

You see the distinction.

In the one, people are aware of your activity, the stuff you are working on.

In the other, people are aware of your authority, the competence you have in the work you are in.

When people believe you know what you are doing, a mistake is just that. Setbacks happen. The ground is not shaky. 

When people only know what you are doing, a miss fuels questions of if the future will be okay.

Influence flows from confidence in your competence.

How Do People Know That You Know What You Are Doing?

Many of us grew up believing that humility means not tooting our own horn. We qualify statements like, “Not to pat myself on the back” or “I certainly had help” etc. 

We fill our resume with accomplishments, but we empty talk of ourselves on the job. How many times have I heard a CIO tell me “I prefer to keep the focus on my team.”

Or - “I let the results speak for themselves.”

Problem: results take a long time to find their voice, and an even longer time to be heard. Results whisper; relatability shouts.

Two Practices Demonstrate That You Know What You Are Doing

First, initiate curiosity and collaboration, AND, make the connection of technology to their needs.

Questions make connections. 

I’m leading a client through implementation of a new application. I would not have been able to get them this far if I didn’t ask a lot of questions up front about their desires and their pains, and then demonstrate how this technology is the answer to getting what they want. 

It’s amazing how, when you lead someone through an assessment, formally or informally, they perceive your expertise more highly than if you stormed in with an armful of advice. 

Advice is debatable; assessments are relatable.

First key: Ask questions that build tension and make the technology connection.

Second, draw from your history, because history is a story with believability.

When someone tells me a story, whether the outcome was positive or negative, and they draw a correlation to my situation, I perceive them as knowing what they are doing. 

“Here’s what I did” is more believable than “Here’s what I would do.” 

I see this in our CIO Mastermind Peer Groups every week: When a member presents a need, their peers are quick to draw from and relate their own experience. Their past opens the door to share their current thinking. 

Second key: Talk about your past and relate it to another’s future. 

You understand the difference between doing and knowing what you are doing. I’ve given you a couple ideas to work through on how others see the difference in you.

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