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Five Things That Scare a CIO

With Halloween right around the corner, some pranksters really get kicks out of trying to scare people.  Do you want to know how to scare a CIO?  Here are some things to try.


 Try leading in an organization without a vision. That’s pretty scary! A vision is a shared perspective that the leader and their organization have.  It is a mutual image of the future and a better tomorrow.  It is written that without vision, people perish.  A shared vision helps folks understand why they are doing what they are doing. These people, according to Simon Sinek author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,

“… come to work with a clear sense of WHY are less prone to giving up after a few failures because they understand the higher cause.”

Spider Webs

Hah! The World Wide Web, Internet, and similar spine-chilling crawly things are still scaring CIOs.  We have escalated our fears because of that creepy menace called cloud computing.  Cloud computing is elastic, scalable, on-demand services available through the Internet.  When I was a young child, my little brother David would climb a tree and dip an old mayonnaise jar into a lot of gypsy moth larvae – aka CATERPILLARS. He’d then pull out the most disgusting thing in the world – a jar full of wiggly caterpillars.  Fortunately, my mother banned creepy crawlies from the house where I could always retreat safely.  CIOs are still trying to ban the creepy crawlies from their house.  I learned that it was not so bad, I just had to be a big girl and quit letting my brother scare me.  Grown-up CIOs will do that naturally.


Another old saying tells us that nothing beats a failure but a try.  But, when you are leading major initiatives in your organization, nothing is as scary as seeing a legacy of failures from past attempts.  What was that noise?  Oh, it was the bloodcurdling sound of project managers who had to deliver results with insufficient time, budget, or people.  Rather than just trip over the graves of past failures, CIOs need to take a few moments and learn from them. 

Haunted Houses

CIOs are always trying to improve the reputation of the IT organization.  And let’s face it, there’s always room for improvement. But sometimes, there are cultural barriers that just continue to haunt us and leave us petrified wondering which way to run.  I tried this trick once – I have to admit that I may have watched too many episodes of Dark Shadows as a teenager.  I once called a meeting and told the group we were going to have a séance.  We exorcised the ghost of the former project manager and section head.  They were stuck in the past with old issues that were long laid to rest.  However, they kept reliving what went on before so much, it was almost impossible to move forward.  The séance worked and we were finally able to move on.

Headless Horsemen

Just like the Headless Horseman rode around wreaking havoc on the denizens of Sleepy Hollow, the bad leader will menace the organization as they run around in various different directions.  Barbara Kellerman talked about this kind of leadership as toxic. In particular, she considered the traits either/or insular, intemperate, glib, operationally rigid, callous, inept, discriminatory, corrupt or aggressive.

 There’s so much more to add, but for now, I am finished this blog.  Alas, I think I have to sleep with the lights on tonight!


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