The Best PI Profiles for Chief Information Officers featured image

The Best PI Profiles for Chief Information Officers

By: Matthew Bock

~ 3 minute read

Not all CIOs are created equal—your ideal CIO profile depends on several factors, including your business’s lifecycle stage and the specific job to be done. Whether you’re in a startup, scaling up, turning things around, or maintaining success, the right CIO can make all the difference. Enter the Predictive Index®, your new best friend for creating a framework to identify the perfect CIO profile for your needs. Let’s dive in and figure out who’s best for your business.


Specialist – Great for Scaling Up

The Specialist reference profile thrives in organizations that are scaling up. They love the freedom to build operations and crave feedback from the C-suite. As a CIO, they need a solid team to back them up and plenty of reassurance from the rest of the C-suite to take risks. Specialists are the ones making sure the benefits outweigh the risks during decision-making and are notorious for sticking to the rules (no, they won’t use one Microsoft license for 65 employees).

Imagine your company wants to send a mass text to clients, but the Specialist CIO refuses because the technology only allows 1:1 communication. When the leadership team asks to bend the FCC guidelines, the CIO stands firm: “You can let me go, but this would put you on the radar with the FCC.” That’s the CIO you need on your bench.

Characteristics of a Specialist

  • Matter-of-fact
  • Task-oriented
  • Proactive
  • Provides a lot of structure for delegation
  • Sets superb guardrails

Building a Balanced Team

In the C-suite, you’ll likely have other risk-takers (like the CEO and COO), which balances the Specialist. Their team should include some extroverted or people-oriented folks to help them interact with customers, whom they might just see as carbon-based life forms. Pair them with someone who can challenge them intellectually and help keep things measured.


Guardian – Sustaining Success

A Guardian reference profile is perfect for established organizations focused on maintaining rather than creating. Think calculated growth, not stagnation. Guardian CIOs thrive in environments with respected policies and predictable outcomes. Large organizations, even those working with government bodies, are their playground.

Characteristics of a Guardian

  • Avoids risk
  • Cautious
  • Steady
  • Enjoys getting into the weeds of detailed work
  • Holds tight to delegation

Building a Balanced Team

Guardians need team members who are slightly more comfortable with risk to keep the business growing. In addition, they work great with other guardians (or introverted, detail-oriented profiles), which can help with the time it takes to trust others. 


Scholar – Innovation Expert

Scholar reference profiles as CIOs are your go-to for turnaround situations. They hold the line and communicate swiftly and unilaterally to turn the business around. With a fresh perspective grounded in logic and analytical thinking, they’re empowered to maintain an error-free environment. Just give them a specific timeline (typically a bit longer) to deliver results. If a Scholar is your CIO, when you email them with a tech problem, they might auto-reply with “try rebooting” before ever triaging your request.

Characteristics of a Scholar

  • Analytical
  • Innovative and unconventional 
  • Works independently
  • Persistent

Building a Balanced Team

Scholar CIOs need team members who know the lay of the land and provide context before they jump in and start flipping over tables. Their team would also benefit from others willing to be more social, who can translate the Scholar’s ideas and help bring others along. Lastly, a Scholar will need to either adapt their detail-orientation or ensure they are working with a team who will follow up and follow through.


Strategist – Start-Up Dynamo

Strategists move quickly and thrive in organizations where they can drive results and work with facts and data. They love a fast-paced environment and wearing multiple hats, making them the perfect CIO for startups.

Characteristics of a Strategist

  • Understands and paints the big picture
  • Manages multiple priorities under pressure
  • Structures others’ ideas for action
  • Pushes for outcomes with strong follow-through

Building a Balanced Team

With a Strategist reference profile as a CIO, you’ll need team members who can outline the target, take direction, and move quickly. Their leadership style tends to be direct and to-the-point, so a team who is comfortable with a “substance over style” approach will fit together seamlessly. And yes, they’ll need guidelines for interacting with those pesky customers.


Information and technology leadership shines brightest when self-awareness is at the helm. If your IT and technology results are stagnating, we can help you find the right CIO profile to get things moving again. Because the best CIO isn’t just about skills—it’s about fit.

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Matthew Bock

Catalyst for change, this problem-solving captain loves tennis, dogs, and Hawaiian retreats. Known for brewing office beer and believing in constant self-improvement, he's always present and ready for reinvention.