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Not all CIOs are Created Equal. Which One Hits Home?

December 3, 2012
by Pete Rivera
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I have worked with a cross section of CIOs over the years and have filled the CIO role once or twice. One thing I enjoy doing is observing leadership traits and try to learn from them. Personalities and stress factors all contribute to decision making and if you take a step back, you often can get an education, as well as some entertainment value out of it. The important thing is not to get frustrated when you see someone react in a silly or immature way. I say immature because we tend to expect more from people in senior leadership positions. But sometimes people leap frog from position to position and land somewhere that is way over their leadership comfort zone.

When it comes to CIOs they have some additional challenges besides managing a budget and handling personnel issues. They have a very eclectic set of employee personalities ranging from the artistic type to the doomsday prepper. They have to keep up with innovation, but manage the adoption without freaking out operations. They must stay rooted in reality while being bombarded by vendor pitch lines of grandiose product claims.  The fun begins when you look at the various CIO personalities out there. They don’t always fit the corporate climate or mesh well with the CEO’s personality. I think this is one of the reason we have seen such a growth in CMIOs, but that’s another blog.

 I have tried to capture all the CIO personalities I have seen below. See if you can spot your own personality or the CIO that you work with now. Let me know which ones I have missed. Names and genders are withheld to protect the not so innocent.

Charlie Brown

The CEO tells Charlie Brown that he has new software that physicians want and he wants him to kick it down the field and make it happen. So Charlie Brown says; “Oh brother! I know that when I get ready to launch this thing, you will just pull it away at the last minute.” The CEO assures Charlie Brown that this time he can trust him and hands him a signed agreement with the vendor. Charlie Brown is all excited, he figures that if he has a signed document he can’t go wrong, and says; “This year I am really going to kick that ball.” Charlie runs kicks and the CEO pulls the ball out of the way at the last minute and says, “Peculiar thing about this document, it never had board approval.”

The Ostrich

As the name implies, this person is rarely seen. If you do, it’s for brief periods and it’s only a partial view. If you want some time with them, you better attend one of their meetings, because they are seldom in their office or available. When things go bad, expect them to barricade themselves in their office and let the directors run interference. When the go-live is done and the project is successful, expect them front and center basking in the sun…they need the tan.

The Politician

 The politician walks around during the appointed time on their outlook calendar. The male politician doesn’t wear a tie, because they want to look cool and just one of the guys. The female politician is all about the pant suit. She wants to look important enough to command respect, but not too much jewelry that will show off her salary. They want to know everyone’s first name, but that knowledge last just long enough to visit the next cube space. They always like to stay two steps ahead…of their next job.



Pete Rivera

Director Informatics, Hayes Management Consulting

Pete Rivera