Based on the requirements from most commercial clients mandating a search for a CIO, the following attributes are the ones that most often top the list, according to Caroline Sands and Alan Mumby of executive search firm, Odgers Berntdson's CIO Practice
To quote John Donne, "No man is an island" and as such, success rests upon the strength of the team and the CIO's talent of bringing that team together to create a winning formula. Emotional intelligence hinges upon self awareness and an ability to recognize your own impact upon those around you, through to the way in which you sense and react to others needs. Board interaction, supplier management, team leadership. It can't be done well without it.
Calm under Fire
Great CIOs have gravitas, they command authority and respect at all levels of the business and they are calm under fire. A credible manager must have integrity and the will to stand up and be counted when the chips are down. Only an accomplished and grounded individual who is comfortable and confident in their own abilities as a leader can do this.
A tendency to action
As a board level operator the emphasis for a CIO is naturally upon strategic, commercial direction and asking, not what you can do with IT but what IT can do for your business. That said, blue-sky thinking is simply not enough. Of course no one is likely to ask you to wield a screwdriver but rest assured the hiring CEO will want examples of hard and fast deliverables.
Global Perspective and cultural sensitivity
Economic globalisation is a reality of the modern world, and an appreciation for its impact is becoming increasingly vital in business. At a time when diverse geographies and nations have shared demands and expectations, cultural empathy, sensitivity and global partnering become crucial for success.
Well developed commercial instinct
The CIO as a commercial creature is no longer a novel concept, indeed being able to position technology in business terms is the absolute bare foundation of success. Well developed commercial instinct is a clear differentiator and the CIO must now go the extra mile to show how IT can keep the business ahead of its game.
No inherent interest in IT – just what it can do
A contentious point and actually one which increasingly holds less weight in a world driven by multi-channel, Martini (any time, anywhere, any place) IT. How can an IT professional not take an interest in such a diverse and dynamic market, which is, perhaps in part driving the global economy. However the fundamental point rings true, technology has to be seen as a business enabler, no more, no less.