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10 CIO Resolutions for 2021

In January of 2020, New Year’s resolutions could not have taken into account the rollercoaster of events that year would bring. As the world enters 2021, leaders need to evaluate how the year ahead will be different from others, and how to incorporate a restorative approach to leadership in the coming months. 

“There is a lot of rejuvenation and rebuilding to be done. All of that impacts the way you do the work of technology-related business leadership and how you personally show up,” says Daniel Sanchez-Reina, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. 

Gartner has created a list of 10 resolutions for CIOs in 2021. Leaders should not try to tackle all 10 of these resolutions, but rather focus on two to three for the year. Nine of the resolutions fall under three themes of being more:

  • Effective
  • Progressive 
  • Self-aware 

All of the resolutions for 2021, including a perennial 10th resolution, are focused on soft skills to reflect the challenges of the previous year and specific skills for the next year. 


No. 1: No-regrets doer

2020 will be remembered by all the things we didn’t do. For 2021, business leaders should think about post-COVID hopes and dreams. It’s okay to include both dream items and concrete plans, just acknowledge that the world will be different moving forward. This exercise can also contain things that your team can stop doing or get rid of to make space for things you need or want to do. Once you have the list, pick one item and set a date to make it happen. 


No. 2: Virtuality virtuoso

The massive and sudden shift to remote work left many people coping with the change but not embracing it. CIOs need to lead the charge for the best way to lead virtually. Make sure you’re always dressed well, that your video background is uncluttered and that you are well-lit.

Most likely, remote work will be around for a while, so invest in things that make you look professional. When it comes to whatever virtual platform you’re using, make sure you’re exploiting all the tools and options that virtual work offers, whether it’s using virtual breakout rooms or polls.


No. 3: Offensive player

Despite what’s going on in the world, CIOs need to manage internal politics and be on the offensive — especially when it comes to high-visibility projects. Learn to recognize common political attacks and establish relationships with the C-suite to cultivate better relationships and allies. You might also consider taking some media training courses to learn the most effective techniques for deflection and bridging. 


No. 4: Impressionist thinker

It’s easy to throw away ideas for being too crazy. But instead of dismissing these ideas completely, try to frame them in a sentence and carefully articulate potential benefits to colleagues. When you’re done, ask listeners to wait on reacting. Have them sleep on the idea and come back with an argument that destroys the idea, an alternative idea that makes it more doable, or a high-level plan. 

When these options are presented, ask the destroyer to find an alternative option to reap the same rewards. Ask the alternative plan offerer for a high-level plan that can be  carried out. And for those who propose a high-level plan, ask them to start planning and resourcing. If there is no feasible alternative option and the original idea won’t work, withdraw the plan, but use the idea as a springboard for innovative thinking. 




Communicated by Gartner