Organizations globally are grappling with new challenges in view of the pandemic. There is not a single individual or organization that has not been affected. COVID-19 has disrupted businesses and economies in many ways. Businesses have changed, people have changed, behaviours have changed, organizations have changed, working styles have also changed. As we brace for the so-called New Normal, we see that businesses now operate so differently from the way they used to. For most, it is a battle for survival and growth. Amid such inimical and volatile circumstances, only the innovative streak will distinguish between the winners and the also-rans. Therefore, for organizations to survive, they have to transform. The million dollar question is: Can tech leaders leverage technology and provide it to the users and business community they serve?
“Take a look at the Hiring (which thankfully has started in mid 2021), the skills that organizations are looking for, in individuals or professionals has changed or is very different. The expectations are different today! One example is that the world has become much more tech savvy if you may, and as a result, you as a professional are expected to be more technologically evolved, if I may! Question is, “Are you?” asks Venkatesh Mahadevan, Chief Information Officer, Dubai Investments PJSC.
The maverick podcast owner, talk show host, angel enterpreneur and tech evangelist goes on to list out the top 5 skills or the most important skills that a CIO will need to have or develop to survive the 21st century or be relevant in this century.
“Are these skills cast in stone? The Answer is Yes and No! Some of them are absolutely essential or a pre-requisite wherever you go, whereas the others may be more dependent on the industry or type of role you are seeking or being interviewed for,” says Mahadevan.
1. Address the Elephant in the Room
How many times have people been guilty of not addressing the Elephant in the room! The Answer is ‘probably quite a few times’! How could somebody miss an elephant?
“An elephant will always be visible and from any angle! The reason we don’t address the elephant is because we do not want to address it. When we ignore or overlook it, clearly we are not doing the right thing, no matter what the decision is. Even if others do not address it, please make sure you bring it up! Take the onus on yourself as a CIO or a Technology leader. If we choose not to address it, then we are contributing to an environment of unease and maybe even lack of trust. As senior leaders, we should be able to point out and discuss the real issues faced by the organization. This is the only way for an organization to benefit,” says Mahadevan.
The talk show host and tech leader is right. You can NEVER brush an Elephant under the carpet! It is going to stay there for as long as you do not address it! And will continue to come in the way of everything and everyone else!
2. Be a student every day
Experts have always said that learning as a skill must never go away and this is more true now than it ever was! Your ability to perform In your role, stay on top and continue to grow in an organization will cease if you do not continue to learn and adapt new techniques and methodologies that are coming into play in the business world. The good news is that In today’s fast paced and technologically advanced environment, CIOs do not need to carry a school bag and go and sit in a classroom to listen to the teacher. There are so many resources out there along with subject matter experts. The key is to learn and absorb the content and use it to apply in the workplace for the benefit of one’s organization.
“Spend a couple of hours a day in a classroom. I read somewhere, “Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other”. Yes, back to school or back to college is key! Not in terms of attendance, but in terms of mindset. While we are all qualified and suitably well educated, the time is for us to put back our learning cap and be a student all over again so that we can learn to understand the nuances and the new ways of the world,” says the tech leader.
This is important to build and sustain a capability that will help build new skills continuously required in today’s competitive market. It is a known fact that smart and rapid learners are the ones most prone to success and effectiveness in the workplace.
3. Develop an Eye for Detail
“There is a story about Steve Jobs (somebody I hugely admire and respect for his creativity and innovation) interaction with Google’s Vic Gundotra, where Steve called him on a Sunday and pointed out the incorrect gradient on the second ‘O’ in the Google logo on the iPhone. Incredible isn’t it? That is exactly what Vic thought so too,” adds the talk show host.
If you are a leader, it doesn’t matter whether in tech or otherwise, your attention to detail is critical and probably one of the Key success factors. This is so important because CIOs often go through a lot of documents and quite a few times are in a hurry and monotony could set in those crucial moments. It is therefore important to keep the “attention to detail antenna” always up and about!
“Whether you are reviewing a Contract for Outsourcing your services, or a Licensing contract or a Support contract, you need to have the ability to spot the nuances and point them out. One of the most critical components of bringing in effectiveness is this quality of detail orientedness,” adds Mahadevan.
4. Do not Exist or Survive, Thrive
We see a lot of people around us just surviving, as a result of settling in and not wanting to step out of their comfort zones. These are people who go through the motions in auto mode and not really stop and think and probably are telling themselves that they are happy where they are! The age to just exist or survive is gone, you need to thrive, just to survive! Times are changing fast!
“Just as in our personal space, even in our professional space, unless we cho(o)se to Thrive, we will never accomplish great things. You can choose to be a Good Tech leader or a Great Tech leader! As leaders we face a lot of challenges running our departments/functions. There are times when we just have to keep the lights on (KTLO), but with the year and half that has gone by and the heap of issues and challenges that businesses and us as individuals have faced, only KTLO is not enough for anyone or any business. Be a Thrive Leader people look up to!” adds Mahadevan.