motion-blurred-2017-kevin-haskewWhen I think about courageous tech leadership on a truly global scale, an example and role model who comes to mind is Kevin Haskew, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at ON Semiconductor, a Fortune 1000 and World’s Most Ethical Company offering a broad and comprehensive portfolio of innovative technology products.

Kevin is a recipient of one of the HMG Strategy 2017 Transformational CIO Awards, honoring senior Executive Technology Leaders who have performed with distinction and excelled in leadership, innovation, transformation, industry give-back, growth management, and legacy direction. He will receive the award at the HMG Strategy CIO Executive Leadership Summit in Phoenix, AZ next week.

I sat down recently for an in-depth conversation with Kevin, who spoke with me about his approach to effective leadership in turbulent times. In our conversation, Kevin emphasized the need for CIOs and other technology executives to hone in their skills on communicating with the C-suite and board of directors.

“You’ve got to be seen as credible,” says Kevin. “You can’t just talk IT. You need to communicate from a business perspective. Ideally, they should see you as a business person. It helps if you’ve had prior P&L responsibility.”

Kevin says it’s important to remember that many senior-level executives are still wary of technology and don’t really understand its role in the business. “A lot of executives are still nervous with technology,” he says. “Sometimes, they feel threatened or lost and it makes the relationships a little bit uncomfortable.”

Even when you need to move forward quickly into the future, “you still have to make sure that the day-to-day operations are covered and that your systems are running smoothly, efficiently, safely and securely,” says Kevin.  “If they’re not, then you’ve got no credibility.”

The good news is that when you have good communication skills and you’re perceived as a credible leader, “then people start listening to you. You can start to have those conversations about changes in the industry, new technologies, new directions and new strategies,” says Kevin.

Kevin also says that it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and keep up with unexpected shifts in markets. Expectations are always changing, and tech leaders need to stay aware of how consumers think and how they behave. In chaotic 21st century markets, it’s absolutely critical to keep the customer experience 'top of mind' at all times. “As executive leaders today, we have to be very comfortable with being uncomfortable,” says Kevin. “That’s the way it is.”

I genuinely appreciate and value Kevin’s excellent advice. He truly is an outstanding role model and a trusted source of guidance in difficult times.