CIO Leadership: How should a Telecom CIO spend his or her time (versus where CIOs actually spend their time)

Here is a simple exercise – for you as a CIO or Senior IT leader to complete.  It will take perhaps 15 minutes.

Have your Executive Assistant (or find 15 minutes yourself) do the following:

1) Open your outlook calendar across any 3 week span.  Review all the appointments, meetings, lunches, and work-related activity.

2) Categorize all your time (including hours beyond nominal work days) into four buckets:

  • Meeting/Managing/Improving Relationships ‘upwards’… to your boss and his/her peers
  • Meeting/Managing/Improving Relationships ‘across’ – to your peers and business colleagues
  • Meeting/Managing/Improving Relationships ‘downward’ – to your subordinates.
  • Private Time (10%) – strategy, perspective setting, reflection, mentors, coaches, business role models, but NOT e-mail

3) Compare it with the norms in the chart below.

It won’t be a surprise to me if your profile looks very much like CIO X in the diagram below:

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

This obvious diagnostic leads to a straightforward recommendation: CIO X spends too much managing downward and not enough time upward and with peers.  Why?  It is natural to stay in your ‘strike zone’ or ‘comfort zone’.  IT execs in particular often get too involved in ‘firefighting’ and ‘technology roadmaps’, resulting in excessive managing downward.  This can result in a very narrow-minded perspective, without a strong connection to key business counterparts.

The Lesson here is that every exec should periodically take stock of how you spend your time (preferable at least Quarterly) to be sure it is balanced with your company’s executives above your level… as well as with your peers.  This strengthens relationships for the tough times where you need their support.

Finally – be sure that 10% of Private Time is ‘booked’ on your calendar… not for email, but for quiet contemplation, strategy development, reflection and meeting with coaches and role models. Your career deserves it!

Next Blog: CIO Leadership Part 2: Inspiring CIO Leadership makes a difference: Leonard Bernstein vs. most other conductors.

Today’s International Travel Tip:

Red Carpet Club/Star Alliance members heading home from Sao Paulo – have you noticed that the club is Very Crowded on Thursday and Friday nites?  The club was built before United’s merger with Continental, and now it is typically Standing Room Only.  Today’s tip:  Go to the TAM lounge just down the hall…usually not as crowded.  Stress savings: a place to sit for an hour or two before your flight.

Wrapping Up:

Hopefully you’ll find this blog interesting and will pass on the link to your friends and networks. Please … subscribe, send me feedback, and check back next week for the next installment.  If nothing else, I promise the International Travel tips will be extremely useful!

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.