8 Soft Skills Every CIOs Should Master to Succeed in Future

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Put yourself in the shoes of a cybersecurity leader for a moment. From securing critical business assets to convince board members to increase the cybersecurity budget, from deciding which equipment to buy from which vendor to creating business alignment with IT are all part and parcel of CIO’s responsibilities.

Most CIOs possess technical skills experience and knowledge to deal with complex technical problems but lags when it comes to people management. To be effective, it is important for CIOs to acquire and polish the soft skills as well. Without these soft skills, they can not manage their team efficiently. As a result, it will have a negative impact on the business.

In this article, you will learn about eight soft skills that every cybersecurity leader must learn and master to succeed.

  1. Vision

The pace at which the cybersecurity industry is evolving demands cybersecurity leaders to be proactive. Hackers are always staying one step ahead of cybersecurity experts. Frequent data breaches and cybersecurity attacks are a testament to that. Being the person in charge of cybersecurity of an organization in such a situation requires the ability to visualize the future and anticipate cybersecurity attacks before they target your critical infrastructure. Good CIOs are always proactive and act before everything is lost. You will find them protecting their best dedicated servers and databases before their data can get stolen.

  1. Team Building

The advancement in cybersecurity has led to the creation of new jobs. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough talented individuals who are ready to fill those new job roles. As a result, the talent gap is widening. In such a situation, you don’t want to lose your best employees or don’t want to hire the wrong candidates who are not the right fit for your organization. That is why team-building skills are pivotal. CIOs and managers must define team-building processes, assign roles and create a culture that accelerates innovation and technological development.

  1. Negotiations

As a CIO, you might be handling business and IT-related projects, collaborate with vendors and negotiate with suppliers at the same time. All this requires negotiation skills. In order to get the best deal, you will have to negotiate with all the stakeholders. CIOs should lead all the conversation and take an active part in the negotiation process to strike the best deal.

  1. Vendor Management

The exponential growth of cloud computing has led to wider adoption of cloud technologies. More and more businesses are migrating to the cloud. Even those who are still skeptical about the cloud are adopting a hybrid approach by storing some data in the cloud while other critical business data on-premises. This means that businesses will be working with more third-party vendors. 

You will have to sign contracts with different vendors which is where your vendor management skills come in handy. It is important to read between the lines when it comes to contract as there are certain clauses you might miss. These are the clauses that can come back to haunt you in future.

  1. Business Transformation

Technology is the main catalyst that drives business transformation and innovation. It act as an enabler but the process will only runs smoothly only if the cybersecurity leaders take the charge. Unfortunately, most CIOs tend to shy away from leading the change because they lack the skills required to change the business process and organizational change. 

They might be proficient in technology but need to up their game when it comes to leading business transformation. With organizations embracing digital transformation, you will have to be an expert in leading business change.

  1. Communication Skills

Whether it is verbal or written, communication skills do matter especially if you are a CIO. You must communicate with all the stakeholders and make sure they all are on the same page. These stakeholders don’t care whether CIOs has technical skills or not but they look at how well a CIO can express himself and communicate the message. They will see a memo, have a conversation or get a detailed report and judge the CIO from it. Even if you are an expert in technology but fail to get your point across, they won’t be impressed.

  1. Presentation Skills

CIOs are not only accountable for their actions but also the action of their team. They will have to justify and present a progress report of their team in front of the board members and key business executives. If the CIO lack the presentation skills, they won’t be able to convince the board members and hence, won’t get that desired increase in the cybersecurity budget. As a CIO, you are no longer restricted to your room, you will have to be at the forefront of presenting your annual report.

  1. Organizational Development

Gone are the days when only the human resource department was responsible for organizational development. Today, all the departments must play their role to make it possible. With integrated IT infrastructure powering enterprises and application jumping hardware and software boundaries, your IT team will have to change their mindset and follow a more service approach. This means that CIOs will have to restructure your team or break down IT silos. Additionally, they will have to convince staff who are resistant to change. In short, they will have to act as a change agent who drives organizational development. To hone their skills and do a better job at organizational development, many CIOs are even taking courses in organizational development.


Having technical skills is a prerequisite for being a good CIO but it is the soft skills that will differentiate a good CIO from a great one. Whether it is communication skills, presentation skills or negotiation skills, it will determine the worth of a CIO in the future. With IT acting as a change agent, CIOs should familiarize themselves with organizational development and business transformation.

Which non-technical skills should a CIO has in your opinion? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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