Building relationships helps you become a better leader
The importance of relationships and business acumen to the success of the CIO role
- CIOs should have a strong business mind and relationship management skills
- Relationships are key to meeting the business needs of the institution
- As their role evolves, higher ed CIOs will need to integrate AI into their communications and work to meet student expectations
Kay Rhodes, Chief Information Officer, Texas Tech University System
As technology continues to grow, and we can do so many more new things with AI, I think that's what's on the horizon is how are we going to integrate that into our communications, into our work with our customers. Students will expect it. And how will we make that work best for them, to give them the data they need in an efficient manner and in an accurate manner.
A skill that an IT manager needs is relationship management and an understanding of the business of the institution. IT is secondary. It makes it happen. We can make it happen through the IT process. But if we don't understand the business need and if we don't build those relationships, we're never going to be able to truly meet the needs, because you have to communicate. And so, the relationship piece is key.
Someone that's aspiring to be a CIO—to develop the skills, to build relationships, and have a strong business mind—I think you start in understanding the broader scale of what you're doing in, let's say, a system or an application. You may know one part of it, but what does that really mean? What's the impact to the whole institution?
Go further beyond what you're doing at your desk to understand the full impact. And, in that process also, reach out and make and build relationships with the business staff that you're working with.
And then over time, you understand their business, they understand yours, and you build that relationship, which then helps you be able to become a better leader in understanding the broader scope of what the institution is doing.