Tech Leaders: Best Practices for Aligning w/ Business Units


Tech leaders that want to advance their careers are realizing the importance of partnering with business units. Business leadership is clearly communicating that they want tech leaders to work more effectively with business units.

Below are best practices tech leaders can use to build these critical relationships.

  1. Work as a team to develop goals for your business unit customers. As an example, knowing what business units need when they begin thinking about it allows time to plan for their needs.
  2. Nothing is more powerful than really knowing your customer – how they think, how they feel, how they make decisions, how they communicate, etc… This can be achieved by spending time and asking good questions.
  3. Stories are a great way to communicate. People love stories and relate to them. Think of stories from you experience that communicate the point you want to make.
  4. Have an objective when you meet with a business unit. Think about the questions you want to ask ahead of time. Always be diplomatic in communication and consider sending your goal and questions ahead of the meeting.
  5. Actively listen to what they say. Strive to talk less and listen more.
  6. Remember, they probably don’t see the world, think, or solve problems the way you do.
  7. Ask follow-up questions to clarify.
  8. Tell them what you understood them to say to ensure communication was effective. This is really important when communicating people that think differently than you, which is usually the case if you are technical and they are from a business unit. Follow up with a brief email restating the request (if there was a work request).
  9. Have business conversations – not technical conversations. There is NEVER a need to speak at a more technical level than business unit leaders can understand.

Always remember, asking the right question at the right time is extremely powerful. Further, you won’t do these things perfectly. The important part is that you try.

Pete Hendrix is CEO of Integritec, a Telecom technology broker and thought leader on achieving competitive advantage through technology which comes from effective collaboration and communication between IT leadership, the C-Suite and other business unit leaders. He can be reached at

IT Leadership Development: How to say “No” (Part 3)

Pete Hendrix No(Part 3)

Many IT leaders don’t include feelings of others when thinking, making decisions and communicating with others.  This isn’t bad or negative, it has led us to much of the great technology we have.

This three part paper provides awareness, tools and suggestions to manage this trait in dealing with others, which will boost careers via better relationships with business units and subordinates.

The Art of Saying No Part #3

IT Leaders – Build Stronger Relationships

Disconnect-Pete HendrixMost business unit leaders think and make decisions differently than most IT Leaders.  The impact is that both parties speak a different language which is the basis for many of the challenges in the relationship between IT and the rest of the company.



Much is written describing the changing role of IT Leadership, yet little is written on practical ways for IT Leaders to actually make the transition.  This paper presents a path to stronger relationships with the C-Suite and business unit leaders.

IT Leaders- Build Stronger Relationships(1)

Moving Forward With Solutions In The Changing Role of the CIO

Modern businessCIO’s often struggle with the changing role that is becoming more and more about business leadership. This is not new information, much is written about problems with IT.  Too often though, all fingers point at IT leadership.  I believe this is not all together accurate and the solution requires effort from business unit leaders and executive management as well as IT leadership. This article moves from problem to solution and is one of the best I have seen.

Why chief information officers can

struggle in a leadership role

The Changing Role of the CIO – What Does It Look Like?

CIO Changing Role Pete HendrixThe world we live in has probably changed more since 1940 than the entire history of civilization up to that point. While most of us appreciate modern conveniences, we often dislike the change in our jobs that is necessary.

Advancements in technology are enabling companies to achieve at a much higher level, especially for R&D, revenue generation, market position and customer satisfaction. These advancements are changing what businesses need from their CIO. In short, the new role of the CIO will involve keeping infrastructure working, taking part in IT security while helping the company to use technology as a competitive weapon.

Here are parts of the new role of the CIO:

  •  Keep the existing infrastructure working.
  • Take an active role in cyber security.
  • Spend significant time as a consultant to business units to select and implement technology that will drive profitable business growth, customer satisfaction and anything else that is part of the firm’s strategic initiatives.
  • Assume a leadership role in understanding and suggesting technology that will support strategic initiatives of the company.
  • Integrate third party applications to take advantage of data held in company databases.

A big challenge for IT leadership is figuring out how to achieve this. There is no easy answer, nor is there an answer that fits all organizations and industries. Many people, myself included, would consider this to be overwhelming. The key is to break this huge task into many small tasks that move toward the desired result.

The solution will include skill set development for the CIO, finding a way to spend less time on infrastructure and more time in the business units and effective communication with the rest of the C-Suite, especially the CEO, CFO and COO.

The next article in this series will address the relationship between the CIO and the rest of the C-Suite. Following articles will more from description into solution.


Pete Hendrix is a blogger and a technology broker. He is also a thought leader on the relationship between IT leadership and the C-Suite as well as skill set development for IT leaders as technology changes their traditional role. He can be reached at