We’re at a point in time where the pace of disruptive change is unprecedented. Technological and business innovation is occurring at breakneck speed. Quite simply, organizational leaders that can’t keep pace are going to be left behind.

CIOs who hope to succeed in this bold, new world need to draw upon new leadership capabilities that deliver breakthroughs in performance. It requires passion and conviction and a willingness to take risks. In short, CIOs need to be courageous.

Successful leaders have common traits. The courageous leaders I’ve met all shared the following characteristics:

A willingness to tackle tough challenges immediately. Effective leaders gather feedback from a variety of trusted sources before making critical decisions. But they don’t over-analyze. They’re quick to spot market trends and cultural issues and are decisive in confronting these challenges.

Open to collecting feedback and insights from a variety of sources. Courageous leaders gather perspectives from people across all levels of the organization. This includes obtaining opinions from business and functional executives they may not always agree with but whose opinions they value. Shrewd leaders gather viewpoints and perspectives from different people for multi-dimensional decision-making.

As Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Challenge the status quo and call it as they see it. Effective leaders know when to speak up and when not to. But CEOs and other members of the C-suite expect the CIO to deliver value to the enterprise and one of the ways the CIO can do this is by sharing their unique perspective across the organization and revealing ways to improve processes and business practices.

Encourage constructive dissent from their team. Successful leaders allow members of their team to challenge their assumptions and to let them know when they believe the leader’s vision is off course. In fact, they actively seek out people who are willing to tell it like it is.

Accept that they don’t have all the answers. Great leaders recognize that they’re not experts in every facet of the organization. That’s why they rely on trusted advisors to keep them informed about important developments to help guide their decision-making.

Embrace change and are receptive to new approaches to problem-solving. Problem solving is about people working together to tackle a common problem. The most effective leaders are open minded to trying new approaches. They also publicly advocate and demonstrate a willingness to take risks. This includes communicating to team members that they won’t be punished for taking risks that don’t turn out successfully.

Commit to decisions and don’t second guess. While great leaders solicit input from trusted advisors to develop a multifaceted view of a particular situation, once they act they don’t look back.

Delegate responsibility and empower others to act. Successful leaders don’t try to do everything by themselves. They delegate responsibilities and they don’t micromanage the decisions made by those they’ve empowered.

Reward and recognize success to call out individual accomplishments. People crave positive feedback for their achievements and appreciate public recognition for their efforts.

Key Takeaways

  • Effective leaders are open to new approaches to problem-solving and listen to recommendations offered from across the organization.
  • Courageous leaders encourage members of their team to challenge their assumptions and actively seek out people who challenge the status quo.
  • Bold leaders gather opinions from multiple stakeholders but once they make a decision they don’t second-guess their actions.