Throughout this entire interview, Peter Appleyard kept referencing the obvious key to his success. It’s all about creating a positive impact on shareholder value.
To make that happen, people skills are most important. Peter suggests a focus on learning how things operate in your organization – how things get done. How do different parts of the organization inter-operate? Observe! Then match your style appropriately. If decisions are made via formal presentations, make formal presentations. If they’re made using a white board, get skilled at using a white board. Fit the culture.
“Schools don’t teach you people skills.”
Now, there’s something to keep in mind early in a career! Identifying skill gaps and mentoring are important from the start and remain so. Appleyard also suggests gaining a deep understanding of Situational Leadership. He notes how powerful it can be in establishing yourself in a new organization.
How do you decide what your career end-goal is? First recognize that not everybody can or should even aspire to be a CIO. If politics and gamesmanship put you off, why put yourself through the “antics and agony” of the boardroom?
On the upside? There is tremendous satisfaction in taking an idea, selling it, delivering it and having it be a success with significant impact on shareholder value.
Bottom line advice: Hone your people and leadership skills (including labor laws), become adept at project management, understand how the executive mind works, know all the details and nuances of the finances and never, ever lose sight of the value you add to your organization.
Peter Appleyard, now retired, was CIO of Crowncrafts in Atlanta, Senior Partner for Executive Solution Providers and held a wide variety of executive and management positions in IT.