3 CIO Training Certifications that Can Improve Leadership Skills

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated May 8, 2023

As the role of the CIO expands to include more strategic responsibilities, CIO training needs are also growing.

IT certifications and technical knowledge certainly still matter and they always will. 

However, as most research firms and analysts point out, CIOs’ roles are becoming more strategic and less operational.

According to IDG’s 2020 State of the CIO, the time spent on tasks is shifting:

  • Functional tasks such as cost control/expense management declined (down 4-29%) 
  • Strategic tasks such as identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation have increased (up 4-25%)
  • Almost half of the respondents in IDG’s survey identified as a “transformational CIO” (46%) versus only a quarter who identified their role as functional

One important takeaway from statistics such as these is that CIOs must be ready and able to embrace new tasks and responsibilities. Among other things, this means that CIOs will need to acquire new skills and knowledge in order to stay successful in tomorrow’s digital-centric enterprise.

Below, we’ll take a look at a few training and certification options that can help CIOs round out their skill set and add more value to their organizations.

3 CIO training options that can boost leadership skills beyond IT service management

CIOs who want to boost their leadership and managerial skills would do well to study areas such as:

Change management

Organizational change has become a constant in the modern enterprise, and much of that change centers around digital transformation. While digital transformation is certainly an important area to study, so too is change management.


Change management is the business discipline dedicated to designing, implementing, and optimizing organizational change programs, usually with an emphasis on managing employees.

Prosci’s ADKAR model, for instance, focuses on:

  • Raising awareness about change projects and cultivating a desire for change among workers
  • Providing employees with the tools and skills they need to succeed
  • Reducing resistance from employees
  • Reinforcing changes to ensure that they stick 

A structured approach to change management, such as this one, can significantly streamline change projects and their outcomes.

Prosci’s change management certification is an excellent option for CIOs, since it is affordable, accessible to those without prior change management experience, and is not time-intensive. 

For more options, see this list of change management certifications on our change management blog.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation has become one of the chief responsibilities for modern CIOs, so it is important to understand how to design and lead such complex efforts.

Unlike change management training, however, digital transformation certification programs can differ quite significantly in terms of their content.

For instance, there are digital transformation courses that cover:

  • High-level strategies for leading and managing digital-first change efforts
  • How digital technology can be used to digitize, optimize, and reinvent existing business processes
  • Proprietary frameworks that outline step-by-step approaches to driving digital change
  • Emerging technologies and trends that are disrupting the current business landscape

Here are a few examples of workshops and courses that focus on digital transformation and digital-led business change:

Given the fast pace of change in today’s economy, digital transformation training can certainly benefit CIOs. However, these programs are newer and their content can differ greatly, so it is a good idea to perform upfront research to find the right one.

Leadership and development

Leadership skills will become increasingly important as CIOs branch out into other areas of the organization, lead cross-functional teams, become responsible for business outcomes, and take on more executive responsibilities.

To meet these new expectations, CIOs will need to hone practices such as:

  • Communication skills, people skills, and other “soft skills”
  • Leadership and managerial skills
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Sales and presentation skills

In short, CIOs are no longer just responsible for IT services delivery and management. They are becoming full-fledged business leaders – and to fulfill their role as a business strategist and leader, it would help immensely to participate in formal leadership training.

While some enterprises offer in-house leadership and development programs, there are also many courses offered by third parties.

Here are a few examples:

  • The American Management Association offers courses that cover topics such as management and supervision, project management, and communication
  • Dale Carnegie’s courses focus on people skills, presentation skills, leadership, and employee engagement, among other things
  • Many graduate schools, such as Wharton, offer workshops on specific topics from people management to negotiation to remote workplace management

As with the other courses mentioned above, every CIO will have their own personal needs, strengths, and weaknesses. The choice of training should therefore be based on those needs and the requirements of the organization.

Choosing the right leadership training can not only improve on-the-job performance, but it may also become crucial to success in the years ahead.

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.