Published on The Enterprisers Project, February 2017, by Mike Kelly. Mike joined Red Hat as Chief Information Officer in 2016. Previous to Red Hat, Mike was Senior Vice President of IT Shared Services, Divisional CIO and CTO at McKesson. He brings to Red Hat experience in collaborative development and execution of enterprise strategies that leverage information technologies to drive significant business value and sustainable competitive advantage. Mike has been recognized in the technology industry as a champion of talent development and leader of large multi-national, diverse, high-performance teams.
When you start a new CIO role, having a 100-day plan is table stakes. Having that plan-on-a-page is only part of the equation for a successful transition, though. When I recently joined Red Hat as CIO, I took several other actions that I believe can be useful for anyone beginning a new leadership role.
First, I carefully studied my new environment. As much as possible, I tried to extract myself from my previous role and focused simply on being highly curious about the team and organization I joined. I checked myself constantly to make sure I was listening more than I was speaking. It can be difficult for a new CIO to do that, because people often want you to come in with all the answers. But how can you have the answers when you don’t yet know what the questions are?
Of course, there may be points that need to be addressed and solved immediately. And you may not have the luxury of time to study the business you’re entering before you’re expected to come up with solutions. But I’m a big-picture person. It’s important – and ultimately more valuable in the long run – for me to learn the company, the culture, the organizational structure, and to learn how people work. This lets me better focus on what we’re trying to achieve and how my team fits into that big picture.
For me, it’s always been important to step away and look at things from the outside. That’s one of the things I love about being in IT – it affords you a balcony view of the company.