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Career advice: When the CIO doesn't act like part of the team

Premier 100 IT Leader David O'Berry also answers questions about following a mentor, differentiating yourself at work and more.

By David O'Berry
July 11, 2011 01:56 PM ET

Computerworld - Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader
David O'Berry

O'Berry is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about the need for the CIO to be part of the team, following a mentor and more. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com.

Our CIO is always stressing how important it is that we, his direct reports, work together as a team, but he doesn't act like he's part of the team himself. There are a lot of us, but he doesn't even know all our names, and he seems more interested in hobnobbing with other C-level officers. I see the value of those relationships, but am I wrong to expect him to display a bit more solidarity with his direct reports? I can see right out the gate that your question is not going to have me making friends with the C suite. The unfortunate truth is that leaders are often born, not made. I would tend to believe your current CIO falls into the "tried to make a leader and did not succeed" category. The team comes first, period. If you truly care as a leader, then it shows, and it directly shows in the accomplishments of your team. Otherwise, you are just looked at as someone using others to get to the next rung in the ladder. "Do as I say, not as I do" is a hypocritical recipe for disaster, especially when "teamwork" concepts are thrown around. Trust matters, and he needs to earn it, or he will never be anything but a placeholder for the next person. I always say, "I will be led; I will not be herded." If I feel that way, why would I ever expect anyone who worked for me to feel differently? Your CIO needs to wake up or change careers to something that he can do by himself instead of with a team.

I was laid off from my job as a project manager about five months ago. I've had a few interviews, but I haven't been enthusiastic about the jobs. They seem to offer only more of what I've already done. My wife says this is no time to be fussy, and I understand her point, but I want to give this more time and try to find something with broader horizons. Would I be better off accepting a job now and closing off this gap on my résumé, or should I hold out a bit longer? Tough call. It is going to depend on the length of time the gap is and what you are doing to fill it. For instance, if you have legitimate work, even for a nonprofit or as an independent consultant, then you can maybe wait a bit longer. At the same time, perfection is the enemy of progress, and though your age and financial state are factors, it is probably better to close the gap. At the same time, use your known skills and abilities to add more to whatever organization you join. Don't go in assuming a dead end, and maybe the path will open up to something you never considered.



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