December 21, 2022

This is why on December 7 2022, C-Vision International partnered with Apptio and hosted the 2022 CIO Virtual Council, which gathered worldwide security professionals to guide our IT leaders on how to lead their organizations in this environment. Our host VJ Viswanathan from TORQUE asked about the tools, approaches, and mindsets leaders can use to lead with uncertainty while managing today's fast-changing environment.

It's hard to imagine what the future will bring in our lives, let alone how technology will change as it does. It's impossible to predict where we'll be or what challenges will come our way — but we can prepare for the unexpected and lead confidently no matter the needs of each day.

Technology leaders have a tremendous role in preparing for the future. A best practice approach to planning is to look forward and think about the unknown, making it much easier to shape your organization's culture and positive working environment.

What does uncertainty lead to?

After passing through a pandemic that caused great resignation and then a geopolitical climate that led to a global economic downturn, the technology leadership landscape has changed dramatically. Organizations are challenged to adapt to these changes and the resulting transformation process.

Thus, uncertainty is the new normal in the field of technology. The industry is experiencing a paradigm shift as it undergoes an unprecedented period of transformation, disruption, and change. 

However, this uncertainty can disrupt your business because it is hard to predict how you will respond or what you should do next. In fact, uncertainty often leads to inaction, which results in missed opportunities.

Following are the several challenges that organizations face due to uncertainty:

  • Lack of vision: Without clarity on what the future holds, there is no way to determine the clear direction for change within your organization or across its value chain.
  • Lack of alignment: Your employees are still learning about how their work fits into the larger context of your organization's strategy.
  • Lack of control: Without clearly defined goals and metrics, you cannot measure progress toward achieving them.
  • Lack of resources: Your organization's scarce resources may be focused on meeting certain external objectives rather than delivering against internal priorities.

How do leaders deal with uncertainty?

Uncertainty is a normal part of the business world. In fact, it's often unavoidable. The most effective leaders are those who can navigate through the choppy waters and navigate their organization through them.

In addition to this, managing a large corporation in this fast-paced environment is even more challenging. When asked about tackling challenges during uncertain times in a large-scale organization, Nick Sims, CIO of Neuromodulation at Fortune 500 Company, shared that:

"…one thing that's in a huge organization that I feel like it's really helpful to do is just having excellent communications and cross-collaboration globally.” 

Hence, the CIO can no longer afford to be complacent about uncertainty in the workplace or any of the other challenges facing IT today. CIOs must lead with uncertainty by embracing new technologies, processes, and ways of working that help them deal with uncertainty head-on rather than trying to avoid it or hide from it.

When asked about data-driven decision-making and emotional intelligence decision-making in his daily operations, Philip Alfano, CTO from Apptio shared a technique called insight personality profile test in the following words:

 “…they basically give you a set of questions. And when they come up with your profile, they back the colors on top, you know, are you red, which means you're a manager type to get it done. Green is more people-oriented. Yellow is a bit more inspirational. And blue is more data-driven."

Six strategies for leading through uncertainty

The threat of cyber attacks in the workplace is real, but so are the opportunities to lead through uncertainty. And it's time for CIOs to embrace this uncertainty and make their organizations stronger by acting.

We are in a time of great uncertainty, which inevitably means bold action is needed to address the problems we face. The impossible is possible if you have a clear vision and strong values.

Here are six strategies that IT leaders can implement for leading your organization through uncertainty:

  • Strategically aligning what matters and those within your control is a key component of leading through uncertainty in a team environment. Your support and direction can be a powerful motivator for your team in navigating this transitional period.
  • Strengthen connections and trust by creating a safe space for discussing your employees' different experiences and opinions.
  • Instead of aiming for perfection, make progress, be prepared to make mistakes, and be aware of your capacity to change direction when challenging circumstances emerge continually.
  • Have the courage to confidently and totally confront the unknown. Develop your ability to bounce back from failure, try again, and inspire others to do the same.
  • Proactively seek ways to improve operations, find new markets, identify opportunities for increased profitability, and perceive change as a chance to grow.
  • Make an effort to comprehend the viewpoints of others, especially renowned leaders, senior citizens, experts in leadership development, educators, and others. Peers and team members could also be consulted.

Expectations and uncertainty are the two elements leaders must deal with. The strategy you develop to deal with uncertainty can either squelch or enhance your ability to lead. 

So how do you best lead through uncertainty? 

First, develop a mindset where you expect unexpected things to occur and welcome them as an opportunity to lead. 

Finally, embrace technology as a tool to help you identify problem areas and formulate solutions before they become significant issues.

The IT world has never been as fast-paced and complex as it is today. Oddly, today's uncertainty is tomorrow's opportunity, but few organizations can survive the inevitable changes in their core business.

Whether you're a business leader or not, if you've ever wondered about the role of the CIO in a changing and uncertain world, we hope this Virtual Council was helpful for you. To learn more about leading your organization and ensuring the best security practices in this fast-paced world, keep an eye on C-Vision's upcoming events.