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More CIOs Focus on Digital Business Acceleration Talent

Enterprise CEOs are looking to their most senior technology leaders to deliver competitive digital business transformation projects that enable new revenue growth. Furthermore, they crave business technology champions that are skilled in motivating and developing IT talent for their top priorities.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform how CIOs manage, collaborate, and respond to their key stakeholders. Seventy percent of hiring processes for new CIOs rank individual determination and sensitivity as critical characteristics in 2021, according to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner.

Digital Business Talent Development

"CEOs are looking for executives who are capable of weathering crises," said Daniel Sanchez-Reina, senior research director at Gartner. "They are still unsettled about the future and want determined CIOs who make and implement timely decisions while displaying emotional dexterity to be tactful and supportive."

Gartner says determination refers to the firmness of resoluteness and in turning decisions into actions, and sensitivity is the quality of feeling empathetic toward others’ difficulties and acting accordingly.

Demand for the determination competency among new hires increased 34 percent in 2020 versus 2019, and sensitivity increased 92 percent in 2020 versus 2019. Both CIO competencies are in the top 10 of increasing demand in recruitment processes, which will extend to existing employees too.

A Gartner survey showed that CIOs who look to develop emotional dexterity in the digital era can improve their self-awareness, self-management, and relationships during times of crisis by committing to practicing self-improvement techniques.

Gartner research shows that the vast majority of IT and business leaders say that the most important skills needed in 10 years will be soft skills.

The Gartner survey results showed that above-average CIOs are 30 percent more likely to practice gratitude as a self-development approach, putting them in a better position to deal with the fear and doubt that complex change brings.

"Interestingly, all surveyed CIOs spend an average of 30 minutes daily in learning and development, indicating it is not the quantity, but the quality of time spent on focusing on the right behaviors that are important," said Rob O'Donohue, senior research director at Gartner.

Transparency ranked as the most commonly admired emotional dexterity leadership competency, followed by authentic communications and collaboration.

Above-average-performing CIOs are more likely to develop others through coaching and mentoring than low-performing CIOs (69 percent vs. 48 percent). In a 1:1 setting with their direct reports, high performing CIOs stated that up to 74 percent of their time is spent listening, rather than directing.

Embracing Hybrid Workforce Business Models

"Being aware of the positive impact these behaviors and practices bring is paramount as organizations consider their vaccine strategy and employees return to work," said Mr. O’Donohue. "They’ll be as important, if not more, than the technical skills a typical CIO embodies."

I believe that the shift to a hybrid workforce -- where some employees work from home, while others work at the office location -- will be essential to support the needs and wants of a high-performance IT practitioner team.

Savvy CIOs must provide flexible working models that adapt the organization's culture to the evolving demands of employees that are able to plan and deliver strategic digital transformation initiatives.

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