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IT plays a major role in shaping today's business. Senior executives, therefore, should expect the head of their IT departments to maintain an active role in organizational business decisions. To maintain such an active role, IT leaders need to strengthen their professional relationships with upper management and create a collaborative environment where effective ideas can be exchanged openly between the two parties. Three factors that typically define a CIO's relationship with executives are:

  1. Connectivity of CIOs to the senior management team. Executives or senior management see the relationship with their CIOs in either one of two ways:
    • CIOs are part of the senior management team. They take part in executive meetings and share in the strategic decision-making process.
    • CIOs are not part of the team. They are typically connected to the senior management via other executives, such as the CFO, and are expected to act on the decisions funneled to them through those executives.
  2. Credibility of CIOs in their jobs. Senior executives care about credibility when it comes to any business decision making. A highly credible CIO's suggestions are more likely to be taken seriously by senior management.
  3. Relationship of IT staff with staff from business units. It is not only the relationship of the CIO with the executives from business units that matters. IT staff play a major role in shaping the relationship between IT and business units. The CIO is a representative of the IT department and therefore, any friction between the two units-IT and business- can be detrimental to a CIO's relationship with business executives.

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