Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas
CIO
Swope Health Services

Brian Thomas is Chief Information Officer and Healthcare Executive for Swope Health Services, Kansas City's largest community health center. Previously, he has served in senior information technology leadership positions in a number of healthcare organizations. Thomas is a founding Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Trustees (FACHT), a Board Member for the Johnson County Community College HITECH Advisory Committee, a member of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), and a Board Member of the Heart of America Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HOA HIMSS). He earned his Master of Business Administration from Baker University and his Bachelor of Science Information Systems from the University of Phoenix. Thomas was named by Richtopia to its list of 100 most influential CIOs.

This article is by Featured Blogger Brian Thomas from his Divergent CIO blog. Republished with the author’s permission.

As Brian Thomas, CIO of Swope Health Services correctly tells us, effective leadership matters more than ever in today’s intense and competitive business landscape. But it’s not an easy road to walk. To address these uncertainties, the understanding of effective leadership has to evolve. From being perceived as a traditional culture of control, into a culture of trust and collaboration, where allies are influential in shaping the organization’s business value and success.

Here are a few key lessons from those at the top of their leadership game that will help aspiring leaders as they undergo their own evolution.

Lesson I – Leadership as a privilege.

Joel Austin, VP and CIO at Oncor Electric defines the changing role of 21st-century leaders as one that should be focused on, “…bringing together different functions across the enterprise, with the purpose of delivering new capabilities to the business that didn’t exist before.” Leadership development strategy is about building knowledge and capabilities and having people management, business knowledge, and strategic thinking skills together, to achieve broader business outcomes.

Lesson II – Pause. Collaborate. Listen.

Compassion and empathy are becoming an increasingly large part of the leadership DNA. Brian Thomas believes that mentoring can bring about valuable insight and awareness within the team. While, John Toomy, Senior Vice-President at Rogers Communication, talks about bringing positivity within the team and encouraging interactivity at every level to foster a healthy environment of collaboration. Valuing employees is critical for ongoing business success since a leader is only as good as her team. As Rajeev Roy, Director at Bosch points out - leadership is no longer only about high-level decisions; instead, it is about being agile and flexible to adapt to change and unforeseen situations.

Lesson III – Embrace diversity.

The role of women leaders has evolved as they are more empowered to be enablers, adopting the best technology that aligns to the business goals. This adds value to the business. Tinku Gupta, Senior Managing Director, Chief Technology Officer at Singapore Exchange also points out that women are natural multitaskers which makes them effective leadership candidates. “Leadership means testing your limits” adds senior IT leader Teresa Van De Bogart, Vice President, Global IT Solution Delivery, Molson Coors Brewing Company.

A true leader needs to capitalize on technology to influence and propel the business to success. An organization’s ultimate success depends on how smart, talented visionary leaders build, nurture and inspire their team, while also evolving themselves to be ready for the changing times.