CIO, CFO, CEO, CPO, CxO; if you're in posession of one of these titles, you know that being Chief takes a lot of heat. And if you're new to the position or about to assume the role, you may be in for some surprises.
A month or so ago Jeff Amsel posted a nice rundown for procurement officers about to assume their seats. And I've been writing frequently about what CIOs should be doing whether they are new to the position or veterans. One of the points that keeps coming up with talking about chief x officers is their need to work with their peer executives.
I had the opportunity to get a perspective from Karen Tegan Padir, CTO at Progress Software. Her role encompasses a fairly wide range of duties and I think her initial comment about knowing what impact you do and do not have within the organization bears some serious thought. Karen's comments are below:
"Understand your impact. When you become a C-level executive you immediately have a larger influence in the decision making process. You need to be aware of this authority and use it appropriately. Personally, I am very open and candid in my interactions with colleagues, regardless of title or role. Now that I’m in the C-suite, I need to be careful about what I say as it can sometimes lead to unintended consequences. Delivery can also impact reception as the line between conversation and instruction is easily blurred. I’ve learned that it’s important to be more conscious of how I’m addressing certain issues so that meaning is not misconstrued.
"Emphasize a creative environment. Innovation is most effective when people with different backgrounds and experiences come together to share and feed off of each other’s ideas. But, when “the boss” is around people are less likely to disagree and propose disruptive ideas, which is exactly what we’re striving to accomplish. I’ve come to find that an executive’s role in brainstorming has to shift in order to facilitate success. The most creative people are not necessarily the strongest willed, so it's up to you to create an environment where everyone is willing to contribute and take risks. This means choosing your words carefully when giving feedback and embracing every individual on your team."