How CIOs Can Best Influence Stakeholders

To be successful, CIOs must continuously pitch, persuade and prompt decisions on the part of business stakeholders over whom they have no authority

Julie Ouska, CIO & VP, Information Technologies, Colorado Community College System

Find the root of the problem

I spend a lot of time listening to people, trying to triangulate from many stakeholders what really is the problem that I'm supposed to be solving. Most people in the CIO role are pretty intuitive, good analysts and problem solvers, and usually we're right on the money with our instincts. But the higher we go, the more we can sometimes get ahead of ourselves with solutions that we think are right, but may not be best for the business. We need to take that step back and look for what others see as the root cause of the problem--the real issue we're trying to solve.

I will speak with stakeholders one-on-one, get details from each of them, use that information when talking with others and start forming a proposal or solution. You have to approach stakeholders on their playing field. They do want to trust that you know what you're doing, but they really want to know that you understand their particular issue from a business perspective.

Sam McMakin, CIO, American Chemistry Council

Relationships don't maintain themselves

You're only as good as your last meeting. Even though you've gained an alliance with a stakeholder, it continually needs to be nurtured because people don't just shut off their information intake. The stakeholder may understand your position and justifications, but once you walk out of their office, someone else could walk in with another idea. If you're going to work to nurture a relationship, it can't be done haphazardly.

For me, it's like making rounds. I set myself regularly scheduled time to follow up on what we talked about the last time, and I try to keep everything very informal--just stopping by or seeing if they have time to chat because that stops it from becoming just another required meeting.

I have my directors manage relationships this way as well, independent of those I maintain but also in support of IT better enabling the business. All of us working together with stakeholders gives those business leaders the knowledge and context they need to address the concerns of others.

Athelene Gieseman, CIO, Stinson Morrison Hecker

Ask for input; don't dictate

Whether working with people who are below you or working with peers, if you ask for someone's help, they are more likely to respond well than if you tell them what you want done. Asking doesn't mean that you're weak or that you're not in charge. By putting a question mark at the end of the sentence, what you're really saying is, "I respect your judgment and expect you to give me feedback that will help get this done."

In fact, I encourage people to play devil's advocate with me, because I don't know the best answer all the time. I've made it clear that listening does not guarantee agreement--it is the leader who must make the decision and bear the responsibility of that call. But getting input from others on how to go about something lets me consider other perspectives and usually results in a better solution for everyone.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags CIOsinfluence

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?