Successful business leaders recognize the importance of putting the pieces in place to make their organizations more nimble and flexible to respond to ever-changing market shifts. And while the CIO plays a critical role in laying the technological foundation for improving the agility of the business, the organization’s capacity to react to shifting customer and market dynamics often resides with senior management’s ability (and willingness) to anticipate and respond to change.

CEOs fully recognize these requirements. In PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey of 1,300 global CEOs, organizational chiefs cite strategic thinking as the number one capability for future leaders to develop – the ability to extrapolate market shifts early and anticipate the future and set a clear vision for the company.

Versatile organizational leaders not only anticipate change, they also take bold and proactive steps to drive innovative strategies.

One of the ways in which the CIO can help the executive leadership team shift to a more anticipatory mindset is by providing tools that can deliver real-time or near real-time data-driven insights.

Arming organizational leaders with real-time dashboards, analytics, and visualization tools can enable them to see shifts in market conditions as they’re occurring and to be able to make correlations between business activities that can be used enlighten strategic planning. Cutting-edge visualization tools can also help executives to spot patterns in data that they otherwise might have missed and to understand information faster and more completely. This includes grasping customer or market developments that appear on the edge of the bell curve that can be acted on ahead of competitors.

To seize upon opportunities to drive success, senior leadership also needs to embrace a new set of behaviors. They need to demonstrate a willingness to become more agile and open-minded to new ideas and approaches, enabling the enterprise itself to become more nimble and flexible and less hierarchical. The CIO can exhibit this broad-mindedness through new approaches the IT organization has adopted to distribute information and services, including the use of cloud-based services and communicate how these methods are benefitting the enterprise through greater collaboration and data sharing.

The executive team also must lead with confidence. CIOs can set help set the tone by demonstrating courageous leadership. This can be accomplished by challenging the status quo and recommending ways to improve processes and business practices based on their comprehensive view of the enterprise and their experience working with various business units on new techniques. CIOs can also display courageous leadership by embracing new approaches to problem solving and demonstrating a willingness to take calculated risks.

Courageous leadership also requires a readiness to partner with the world to gain access to new capabilities, innovations, and services that can offer greater value to customers. Once again, the CIO can champion these efforts by establishing partnerships across a broad range of businesses and reveal the benefits that these associations are delivering both to IT and to the enterprise.

The world is changing and shifting quickly. In order to succeed in business, organizational leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to collaborate and approach business challenges and opportunities differently than they had in the past.

As Guy Chiarello, President of First Data Corporation mentions in an HMG Strategy Transformational CIO blog post, successful leaders don’t take the middle ground. “You have to act boldly and reach for things beyond your grasp,” said Chiarello. “You need the confidence that comes from knowledge and experience.”

Key Takeaways:

  • A company’s ability to react to shifting customer and market dynamics often resides with senior management’s ability (and willingness) to anticipate and respond to change.
  • The CIO can demonstrate the open-mindedness that’s needed to succeed in business by displaying new approaches the IT organization has adopted to distribute information and services, including the use of cloud-based services and communicate how these methods are benefitting the enterprise through greater collaboration and data sharing.
  • CIOs can also set the tone for courageous leadership by challenging the status quo and recommending ways to improve processes and business practices based on their comprehensive view of the enterprise and their experience working with various business units on new techniques.