David Rock, Your Brain at Work, has been researching the challenge of collaborating and influencing others and provides a good rubric for IT Leaders. He uses the acronym SCARF (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness). All people seek to move away from threats and toward reward. David has defined five rewards, that when leveraged, can help you influence others. The SCARF acronym illustrates the desired rewards in the light blue portion of each box.
In this diagram, the dark boxes represent the opposite- the fear response. Sheldons tend to be fearful as a default, trusting only when trust has been earned. This is a common characteristic of someone with a high compliance behavior found (often) in IT. With a desire for perfection, the fear of being wrong can become a disabler. Note that very common work situations like making a mistake, undefined outcomes, hierarchical decision making, lack of trust and unfair choices can provoke a fear-based response to highly technical people.
A new CIO might try praise to convert the Sheldons to a collaborative whole, but this could backfire. Recent research by Carol Dweck and Daniel Pink illustrates that praise unrelated to effort/outcome is ineffective. Donna Volipitta writes in her insightful blog;
"Our brains are wired to want to succeed. We just don’t always know how. Feedback should be kind of a feeding frenzy for the brain because, if done effectively, it opens up the opportunity for all types of intrinsic rewards and growth. Unfortunately, this opportunity is often wasted because our natural instinct is to praise ability and reward with extrinsic rewards. The result? We undermine that drive to succeed."