February 23, 2011, 1:02 PM — For all the IT/business crossover during the past 10 years, there's still a gulf between the knowledge, roles and expectations of the three key people in the C-Suite: the CEO, the CFO and the CIO (yes, the others matter, but we're limited by licensing costs on the number of C-level three-letter-acronyms we can use in any one sentence).
The stereotype of a CIO who can't communicate with non-techs is obsolete; plenty of CIOs come from outside IT specifically because of their management and communication skills.
Skills such as building consensus, negotiating and engaging both stakeholders and stockholders are key to any CIO's success, according to CIOs interviewed by CIO.com for advice.
CFOs and CIOs have to see eye to eye on most things, if only because the CFO has a greater ability to poke those eyes that don't focus quite right.
In most cases it's the CEO who sets the expectations of what role any of the other Cs should play and what skills or experience they should have to be worth the big salary and the big chair in the boardroom.
Advice on what CEOs want from CIOs usually filters out into what CIOs should buy or implement.
The key isn't product, though. It's not even technology.
It's what value you can bring to the table. (That, by the way, is corporate-speak for what you can do for the CEO to make him or her more successful, less stressed and more obviously capable to two audiences: employees inside the company, and everyone outside it.)
Some of what the CEO looks for is direct support in various forms.
Much of the rest he or she will describe in corporate terms that can be maddening to technologists more comfortable with their own version of gobbledygook.
Here, from CIO UK's interviews with search firms CEOs use to find CIO candidates, are the seven skills CEOs want you to deliver:
1. Stand up to the stress test
Simple to say, hard to do. Increasingly IT is the fulcrum the rest of the company uses to get its load off the ground, or not. Being crushed by the first failure – or allowing yourself to be replaced by someone or something else following one – is not a harbinger for success.
2. Have a good radar for risk