How important is being a good speaker to a CIO’s career? It may be the single biggest factor for success, according to CIOs from Johnson & Johnson, Starwood Hotels, Southern Company and Walmart.
CIOs can speak IT fluently, but knowing how to talk tech doesn’t make CIOs masters of communication. “We all think [that because] we’re born with a mouth and ears, we’re experts at communicating. And I’m not so sure that’s the case,” said Martha Poulter, executive vice president and CIO at Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Stamford, Conn. “We need to invest in it, observe others and practice it.”
Becoming a deft communicator means more than “learning to speak the language of the business,” a line that’s practically become an IT cliché. The strategy is too narrow to encompass the communications expertise CIOs and would-be CIOs will need to be a partner to the business, Poulter said.
Poulter’s comments came during a CIO panel, Getting to CIO & Beyond No Matter Where You Came From, at this year’s Gartner Symposium. She was joined by CIOs from Walmart, Johnson & Johnson and Southern Company, who stressed that skills like speaking, writing — even listening — should be part of every CIO’s ongoing education. Being a great communicator, like any talent, requires practice. Charisma doesn’t hurt, either.