Of all of the competencies required to be effective as a CIO, perhaps none is more important than being able to build positive relationships with your key stakeholders.
I’ve never seen a CIO who doesn’t have strong relationships succeed. There are a number of key components to being able to develop mutually beneficial relationships.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any relationship is trust. Trust takes years to build and only minutes to destroy. When working with my clients to help them build trust, I focus on two critical components…
The first is say what you mean. How many of us have had meetings with someone who spoke in code? I remember when I was a kid there was a brand of sneakers called PF Flyers. Each pair of sneakers came with a decoder ring to help you translate hidden messages. How many of us leave conversations with people feeling the need for a decoder ring?
How many of us feel we need a translator to read between the lines to truly understand what the real agenda was for the conversation? I make it a practice to be transparent. People might like or hate what I have to say, but they are very clear where I’m coming from. No hidden agendas, no secret messages, nothing up my sleeve!
The second part of this equation is mean what you say. Many of us say things to appease people in the moment without consideration to the longer term consequences of our words. When people deal with me they know that I don’t write checks I can’t cash! If I say something you can take it to the bank.
For example, a few years ago I made a commitment to deliver a keynote presentation at a major conference in Los Angeles. I crawled out of bed with 102 degree fever and put on a suit. My wife asked me where the heck I was going. I told her I had a flight to LA to speak at a conference. This was a commitment I had made and I was going to honor it. I flew six hours, gave my presentation, collapsed in my hotel room, woke up after having passed out, and flew six hours back home.
There were 250 people expecting to hear me speak and nothing short of the Grim Reaper was going to preclude that from happening! The only thing worse than telling someone no, is making a commitment to deliver something of value and then reneging on that commitment. If you want to destroy a relationship fast just make promises to people that you don’t keep.
In summary, trust is the most important aspect of building relationships and trust ultimately creates credibility.
To me a simple definition of credibility is when the things you say are congruent with your actions.
How many times have people told you how important you are to them, and yet don’t make time to spend time with you? How many times have people shared how critical a project is and yet they don’t invest the financial and human resources required to ensure the project is successful. Credibility is about putting your money where your mouth is. Credibility and trust are the foundation that all meaningful relationships are built upon.