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Gartner Reveals How To Become 'The Machiavellian CIO'

CIOs are often under attack due to IT system failures or other circumstances that are beyond the control of the CIO, and if the CIO cannot prevent and fight off attacks successfully, they can face serious repercussions, according to Gartner, Inc.

In the e-book "The Wolf in CIO's Clothing: A Machiavellian Strategy for Successful IT Leadership" launched this week, Tina Nunno, vice president and Gartner fellow, reveals how CIOs and IT leaders can adapt their leadership styles in extreme situations for their own success and that of their teams.

Ms. Nunno is discussing some of the key findings from the book at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, which is being held here through October 10. The book is based on Ms. Nunno's research with CIOs and their mutual admiration for Niccolo Machiavelli, a fifteenth-century Italian political philosopher.

"Business is a hotbed for conflict, and CIOs often find themselves at the center. As Machiavelli implied, you're either predator or prey, and the animal you most resemble determines your position on the food chain," said Ms. Nunno. When a CIO is in a "dark-side" enterprise or in a situation where a colleague is using dark-side tactics, then normal management techniques will not work. In these situations, Nunno suggests CIOs consider using dark-side Machiavellian tactics to defend themselves and then succeed.

"The career of a CIO has many analogies to the life of Machiavelli. CIOs are often in favor with senior leadership, and at other times they are not. While falling out of favor is, at times, deserved due to failure to deliver IT solutions, at other times CIOs are falsely accused of failure or targeted for other reasons. The Wolf — a social animal with strong predatory instincts — is an ideal example of how a CIO, or any leader, can adapt and thrive."

Ms. Nunno took Machiavelli's lessons and boiled them down into three disciplines she believes matter most to CIOs. "CIOs have to master power, manipulation and warfare. They should get comfortable using power and growing it, manipulating and sometimes dealing with issues of honesty or stealth or lack thereof and running disciplined warfare like campaigns that use every weapon in their arsenal to get large groups of people on board," said Ms. Nunno.

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