"Yes, there are differences between CIOs and general managers, but those differences are behavioral rather than intellectual," says Mark Polansky, a senior client partner at Korn/Ferry International in Los Angeles and co-author of a new report.
The major attribute separating CIOs from GMs: the speed with which they make decisions and the way they communicate those decisions. Polansky says CIOs tend to have a highly analytical decision-making style that relies on large amounts of data. Business leaders, by contrast, make more rapid decisions because they are comfortable acting decisively based on available data. And in terms of communication skills, Polansky adds, "Great leaders at the GM level have an inspirational and visionary way of articulating their strategy." Even the best CIOs tend to couch their ideas in technical terms that limit the appeal of their message.
Polansky suggests that CIOs practice decisiveness with small decisions, such as the makeup of a project team, and consider working with an executive coach on other skills.
Megan Santosus, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a features editor for SearchDataCenter.com. Write to her at email@example.com.
This was first published in December 2005