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Technology Executive And CIO Glass Ceilings?

Filed in archive General by steve on May 25, 2005

Kory/Ferry International, one of the well-known executive search firms, has an interesting article in Computerworld entitled, "Is There Really A Glass Ceiling For CIOs?" Probably interesting for all ambitious technology managers to reflect on. In the article (snipped a bit, ellipsis and bold added by me):

As more and more CIOs aspire to general management roles and to become
chief operating officers or CEOs, it's important to ask if there really
is a glass ceilinglinks arresting the upward mobility of technology
executives ...

As executive recruiters, we at Korn/Ferry International have so far found no hard evidence of a glass ceiling for CIOs ... Our research has revealed important differences, as well as
similarities, in the ways in which CIOs and CEOs approach critical
leadership issues.

Here's the some similarities and differences they found:

  • CEOs and CIOs have similar leadership styles

  • CIOs exhibit a more adaptive thinking style (CEOs tend to steer more than adapt)

  • CIOs tend to demonstrate less tolerance for ambiguity than CEOs

  • CIOs demonstrate (on average) noticeably less confidence than their CEO counterparts

Some random selections of things they say will help to further the cause of getting a CIO promoted:

  • Move form cost-center to profit-center mentality

  • Understand financial statements

  • Bring in the money

With this as backdrop, would I conclude that there are no glass ceilings for CIOs as Korn/Ferry did? Perhaps. But unless a CIO is very proactive, the presence of the trench that CIOs are in is pretty close to a glass ceiling to me. Although its nice to talk about working on the three bullet points I've outlined above, many CIOs will have a hard time finding opportunities to really cut their teeth in these areas when they are nose deep in CIO stuff (for example, a proactive "bring in the money" angle could be tough). Perhaps getting CIOs more opportunities to work on boards would be a good step to increasing their global view.

Steve Shu

Permalink: Technology Executive And CIO Glass Ceilings?
Tags: CIO  technology 


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