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How to become ‘The Machiavellian CIO’, reveals Gartner

CIOs can face serious repercussions if they cannot prevent
and fight off attacks successfully. CIOs are often under attack due to IT
system failures or other circumstances that are beyond the control of the CIO,
according to Gartner, Inc.

CIOs can face serious repercussions if they cannot prevent
and fight off attacks successfully. CIOs are often under attack due to IT
system failures or other circumstances that are beyond the control of the CIO,
according to Gartner, Inc.

In the e-book “The Wolf in CIO’s Clothing: A
Machiavellian Strategy for Successful IT Leadership”, reveals how CIOs and
IT leaders can adapt their leadership styles in extreme situations for their
own success and that of their teams.

“Business is a hotbed for conflict, and CIOs often find
themselves at the center. As Machiavelli implied, you’re either predator or
prey, and the animal you most resemble determines your position on the food
chain,” said Tina Nunno, vice president and Gartner fellow. When a CIO is
in a ‘dark-side’ enterprise or in a situation where a colleague is using
dark-side tactics, then normal management techniques will not work. In these
situations, CIOs consider using dark-side Machiavellian tactics to defend
themselves and then succeed.

“The career of a CIO has many analogies to the life of
Machiavelli. CIOs are often in favor with senior leadership, and at other times
they are not. While falling out of favor is, at times, deserved due to failure
to deliver IT solutions, at other times CIOs are falsely accused of failure or
targeted for other reasons,” said Nunno.

“CIOs have to master power, manipulation and warfare.
They should get comfortable using power and growing it, manipulating and
sometimes dealing with issues of honesty or stealth or lack thereof and running
disciplined warfare like campaigns that use every weapon in their arsenal to
get large groups of people on board,” added Nunno.

“CIOs must become comfortable with the idea of power,
gathering it, and using it wisely as it is an essential leadership tool,”
said Nunno. Power is often the most expedient way to get things done, but
Machiavelli acknowledged its limitations.

“The use of power often results in significant
collateral damage or is often of little use in the face of a more powerful
opponent, or in the case of an irrational or deceitful opponent. In such cases,
the leader must resort to craft, subterfuge and more subtle tactics to achieve
success, ideally without alerting the opponent of the countermeasures. CIOs are
regularly confronted with opponents more powerful than they, or those who they
would consider less than completely honest or rational. As a result, CIOs must
also master the discipline of manipulation,” she added.

When CIOs follow traditional IT management advice and best
practices, they often become more vulnerable to the manipulation of others,
rather than less vulnerable. At a minimum, Gartner says that effective CIOs
must anticipate manipulative behavior, and take appropriate steps to evade or
defend against it. Ideally, leading CIOs should consider manipulation
techniques to help advance the IT agenda and increase their contribution to the
enterprise.

By CIO staff

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