The 7 steps to becoming CIO

If “become CIO” is at the top of your To-Do List for this year, here’s a list of seven things you’ll need to do first.

Obviously, there are certain skills that are important for any C-level executive to have. Communication, listening, leadership and negotiation skills are just some examples — it’s hard to succeed in the business world if you aren’t comfortable working with people on a daily basis.

But, if you’re looking for the inside track on what else it takes to become Chief Information Officer, the folks over at InformationWeek gathered these tips from current CIOs:

  • Acquire broad skills and experience: To join the C-suite, you need to add business acumen to your personal knowledge base. Learn the business inside and out. You also need to spend time in as many areas of IT as possible: software development, infrastructure, operations, architecture and project management. Think of yourself as a business person first and a technologist second.
  • Establish a track record of success: Jump at opportunities to show you can deliver results. Volunteer to lead both IT and non-IT projects.
  • Grow internal business relationships: Get to know, both personally and professionally, the line of business managers in your company. Understand how things work, how decisions are made, what they’re accountable for and how their performance is measured. Get comfortable interacting with upper management.
  • Shift your focus outward: Think more broadly about how technology is used to serve your customers — the ones who buy your company’s products, not your users (although you shouldn’t lose sight of their needs either). Become a champion of your products and your brand.
  • Become a “fast-follower,” not an “early adopter”: Being the first to implement new technology might be fun and exciting, but it can backfire when all the kinks haven’t been worked out yet. Instead, hold out for version 2.0.
  • Get an advanced degree: Don’t put off getting that MBA or MS. The things you’ll learn can be used in every stage of your career.
  • Be energetic and proactive: Put yourself out there and take risks to make things happen. Make your thoughts known, even if there’s a chance you’ll get shot down.