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Effectively Manage CxO Relations

Make relationship management a daily habit with a personalized action plan.

With the exponential pace of technological change, an organization's success will depend largely on how well CIOs can evolve from technology evangelists to strategic business partners. This will require CIOs to effectively broker relationships to improve IT's effectiveness and create business value. A confidential journal can help you stay committed to fostering productive relationships while building trust to expand your sphere of influence.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Highly effective executives have in common the ability to successfully balance three things: time, personal capabilities, and relationships. Whether you are a new CIO or an experienced leader, the relentless demands on your time and unpredictable shifts in the organization’s strategy require a personal game plan to deliver business value. Rather than managing stakeholders one IT project at a time, you need an action plan that is tailored for unique work styles.

Impact and Result

A personal relationship journal will help you:

  • Understand the context in which key stakeholders operate.
  • Identify the best communication approach to engage with different workstyles.
  • Stay committed to fostering relationships through difficult periods.

Effectively Manage CxO Relations Research & Tools

1. Effectively Manage CxO Relations Storyboard – A guide to creating a personal action plan to help effectively manage relationships across key stakeholders.

Use this research to create a personal relationship journal in four steps:

  1. Identify key stakeholders and their perception of IT’s effectiveness.
  2. Assess each stakeholder's context to create a profile.
  3. Create an individualized action plan for each stakeholder.
  4. Identify metrics to monitor and manage relationships.

2. Personal Relationship Management Journal Template – An exemplar to help you build your personal relationship journal.

Use this exemplar to build a journal that is readily accessible, flexible, and easy to maintain.

Effectively Manage CxO Relations

Make relationship management a daily habit with a personalized action plan.

Analyst Perspective

"Technology does not run an enterprise, relationships do." – Patricia Fripp

As technology becomes increasingly important, an organization's success depends on the evolution of the modern CIO from a technology evangelist to a strategic business leader. The modern CIO will need to leverage their expansive partnerships to demonstrate the value of technology to the business while safeguarding their time and effort on activities that support their strategic priorities. CIOs struggling to transition risk obsolescence with the emergence of new C-suite roles like the Digital Transformation Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Data Officer, and so on.

CIOs will need to flex new social skills to accommodate diverse styles of work and better predict dynamic situations. This means expanding beyond their comfort level to acquire new social skills. Having a clear understanding of one's own work style (preferences, natural tendencies, motivations, and blind spots) is critical to identify effective communication and engagement tactics.

Building trust is an art. Striking a balance between fulfilling your own goals and supporting others will require a carefully curated approach to navigate the myriad of personalities and work styles. A personal relationship journal will help you stay committed through these peaks and troughs to foster productive partnerships and expand your sphere of influence over the long term.

Photo of Joanne Lee
Joanne Lee
Principal, Research Director, CIO Advisory
Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

In today's unpredictable markets and rapid pace of technological disruptions, CIOs need to create business value by effectively brokering relationships to improve IT's performance. Challenges they face:

  • Operate in silos to run the IT factory.
  • Lack insights into their stakeholders and the context in which they operate.
  • Competing priorities and limited time to spend on fostering relationships.
  • Relationship management programs are narrowly focused on associated change management in IT project delivery.

Common Obstacles

Limited span of influence.

Mistaking formal roles in organizations for influence.

Understanding what key individuals want and, more importantly, what they don't want.

Lack of situational awareness to adapt communication styles to individual preferences and context.

Leveraging different work styles to create a tangible action plan.

Perceiving relationships as "one and done."

Info-Tech's Approach

A personal relationship journal will help you stay committed to fostering productive relationships while building trust to expand your sphere of influence.

  • Identify your key stakeholders.
  • Understand the context in which they operate to define a profile of their mandate, priorities, commitments, and situation.
  • Choose the most effective engagement and communication strategies for different work styles.
  • Create an action plan to monitor and measure your progress.

Info-Tech Insight

Highly effective executives have in common the ability to balance three things: time, personal capabilities, and relationships. Whether you are a new CIO or an experienced leader, the relentless demand on your time and unpredictable shifts in the organization's strategy will require a personal game plan to deliver business value. This will require more than managing stakeholders one IT project at a time: It requires an action plan that fosters relationships over the long term.

Key Concepts

Stakeholder Management
A common term used in project management to describe the successful delivery of any project, program, or activity that is associated with organizational change management. The goal of stakeholder management is intricately tied to the goals of the project or activity with a finite end. Not the focus of this advisory research.

Relationship Management
A broad term used to describe the relationship between two parties (individuals and/or stakeholder groups) that exists to create connection, inclusion, and influence. The goals are typically associated with the individual's personal objectives and the nature of the interaction is seen as ongoing and long-term.

Continuum of Commitment
Info-Tech's framework that illustrates the different levels of commitment in a relationship. It spans from active resistance to those who are committed to actively supporting your personal priorities and objectives. This can be used to baseline where you are today and where you want the relationship to be in the future.

Work Style
A reference to an individual's natural tendencies and expectations that manifest itself in their communication, motivations, and leadership skills. This is not a behavior assessment nor a commentary on different personalities but observable behaviors that can indicate different ways people communicate, interact, and lead.

CDxO: Chief Digital Officer
CDO: Chief Data Officer
CxO: C-Suite Executives

The C-suite is getting crowded, and CIOs need to foster relationships to remain relevant

The span of influence and authority for CIOs is diminishing with the emergence of Chief Digital Officers and Chief Data Officers.

63% of CDxOs report directly to the CEO ("Rise of the Chief Digital Officer,"

44% of organizations with a dedicated CDxO in place have a clear digital strategy versus 22% of those without a CDxO (KPMG/Harvey Nash CIO Survey)

The "good news": CIOs tend to have a longer tenure than CDxOs.

A diagram that shows the average tenure of C-Suites in years.
Source: "Age and Tenure of C-Suites," Korn Ferry

The "bad news": The c-suite is getting overcrowded with other roles like Chief Data Officer.

A diagram that shows the number of CDOs hired from 2017 to 2021.
Source: "Chief Data Officer Study," PwC, 2022

An image of 7 lies technology executives tell ourselves.

Info-Tech Insight

The digital evolution has created the emergence of new roles like the Chief Digital Officer and Chief Data Officer. They are a response to bridge the skill gap that exists between the business and technology. CIOs need to focus on building effective partnerships to better communicate the business value generated by technology or they risk becoming obsolete.

Create a relationship journal to effectively manage your stakeholders

A diagram of relationship journal

Info-Tech's approach

From managing relationships with friends to key business partners, your success will come from having the right game plan. Productive relationships are more than managing stakeholders to support IT initiatives. You need to effectively influence those who have the potential to champion or derail your strategic priorities. Understanding differences in work styles is fundamental to adapting your communication approach to various personalities and situations.

A diagram that shows from 1.1 to 4.1

A diagram of business archetypes

Summary of Insights

Insight 1: Expand your sphere of influence
It's not just about gaining a volume of acquaintances. Figure out where you want to spend your limited time, energy, and effort to develop a network of professional allies who will support and help you achieve your strategic priorities.

Insight 2: Know thyself first and foremost
Healthy relationships start with understanding your own working style, preferences, and underlying motivations that drive your behavior and ultimately your expectations of others. A win/win scenario emerges when both parties' needs for inclusion, influence, and connection are met or mutually conceded.

Insight 3: Walk a mile in their shoes
If you want to build successful partnerships, you need to understand the context in which your stakeholder operates: their motivations, desires, priorities, commitments, and challenges. This will help you adapt as their needs shift and, moreover, leverage empathy to identify the best tactics for different working styles.

Insight 4: Nurturing relationships is a daily commitment
Building, fostering, and maintaining professional relationships requires a daily commitment to a plan to get through tough times, competing priorities, and conflicts to build trust, respect, and a shared sense of purpose.

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Executive Brief Case Study

Logo of Multicap Limited

  • Industry: Community Services
  • Source: Scott Lawry, Head of Digital

Conversation From Down Under

What are the hallmarks of a healthy relationship with your key stakeholders?
"In my view, I work with partners like they are an extension of my team, as we rely on each other to achieve mutual success. Partnerships involve a deeper, more intimate relationship, where both parties are invested in the long-term success of the business."

Why is it important to understand your stakeholder's situation?
"It's crucial to remember that every IT project is a business project, and vice versa. As technology leaders, our role is to demystify technology by focusing on its business value. Empathy is a critical trait in this endeavor, as it allows us to see a stakeholder's situation from a business perspective, align better with the business vision and goals, and ultimately connect with people, rather than just technology."

How do you stay committed during tough times?
"I strive to leave emotions at the door and avoid taking a defensive stance. It's important to remain neutral and not personalize the issue. Instead, stay focused on the bigger picture and goals, and try to find a common purpose. To build credibility, it's also essential to fact-check assumptions regularly. By following these principles, I approach situations with a clear mind and better perspective, which ultimately helps achieve success."

Photo of Scott Lawry, Head Of Digital at Multicap Limited

Key Takeaways

In a recent conversation with a business executive about the evolving role of CIOs, she expressed: "It's the worst time to be perceived as a technology evangelist and even worse to be perceived as an average CIO who can't communicate the business value of technology."

This highlights the immense pressure many CIOs face when evolving beyond just managing the IT factory.

The modern CIO is a business leader who can forge relationships and expand their influence to transform IT into a core driver of business value.

Make relationship management a daily habit with a personalized action plan.

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

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Joanne Lee


  • Scott Lawry, Head of Digital, MULTICAP, Australia
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