What It Takes To Become A High Potential IT Leader
By Jim Anderson
Although this article is not specifically targeted at Project Managers, PM Hut chose to publish it, as an IT leader can easily be/mean an IT Project Manager…
What is it going to take to make your IT Leader career a success? Sure, you can deliver IT value and get your projects done on time, but will that be enough? The answer is no. For you to be seen as a successful IT Leader you are going to have to be seen as a “high potential” IT Leader – one who is going to go places beyond your current assignment. Clearly you need to know what it’s going to take to get others to consider you to be high potential…
The reason that many IT Leaders get stuck in their current job with the current responsibilities is because others don’t believe that they have “what it takes” to handle other responsibilities. The things that it will take for you to be viewed as being a high potential are intangible (can’t really be expressed in words) and generally can’t be written down on job descriptions or yearly evaluations.
The good news is that Dr. Douglas Ready and a team of researchers have been looking into what it takes for an IT worker to move from regular to high potential workers. They’ve uncovered four factors that can transform you from everyday to high potential in the eyes of others.
Do you have what it takes to succeed? Can others tell that you have this drive? Just being good isn’t enough for you – you have to want to be great and it needs to show.
The key here is that others need to be able to determine that you are willing to make the extra effort to succeed. This means that they are going to have to be able to see you make sacrifices in order to advance in your career. Everyone has to know that your personal life comes second when it comes to your job.
The Ability To Learn / Do
High potential IT Leaders are always learning new things. However, this isn’t enough. Just because you are willing to constantly be learning new things doesn’t make you a high potential IT worker.
Instead, you need to show others that you have the ability to not only learn new things, but to also take what you’ve learned and apply it to what is happening right now. The use of new ideas to make IT more productive for the company is what is going to set you apart from everyone else.
Become A Risk Taker
Despite all of us understanding that IT is all about change, it can be too easy for IT Leaders to get comfortable in their jobs. When this happens, they lose the desire to take new risks and they are no longer viewed by others as being high potential IT Leaders.
What we need to do is to be willing to take on new ways to make the company more productive. Sometimes this involves starting a risky new project, or developing a new set of IT skills that will require us to leave what we already know behind.
Develop Your “Spidy Sense”
The comic book hero Spiderman has what he calls his “spidy sense” which tingles when there is danger approaching. High potential IT Leaders need to develop their own version of this type of sensing that allows them to detect when a danger to their careers is approaching.
Career dangers can include such things as projects that are doomed to fail from the start, or avoiding providing feedback to senior managers that could help the company do better. High potential IT Leaders have a highly developed sense that allows them to know when to push forward and when to pull back.
What All Of This Means For You
Just being a IT Leader is not enough. In fact, just being a good IT Leader is not enough either. What you want to be is a high-potential IT Leader. This will open doors to new opportunities at the firm that you are working for and at other firms also.
In order to start to be seen as being “high potential”, you are going to have to start doing several things. These include showing a keen sense of drive to succeed, the ability to both learn new things and then apply what you’ve learned, take proper risks, and sense when an opportunity is either a good thing or a bad thing for your career.
The good news is that any IT Leader can become a high potential IT Leader. Simply by adopting these traits you can quickly move from being seen as simply a good IT Leader to being seen as a high potential IT Leader.
Jim Anderson has been a product manger at small start-ups as well as at some of the world’s largest IT shops. Dr. Anderson realizes that for a product to be successful, it takes an entire company working together. You can learn more about Dr. Anderson on his website, http://www.TheAccidentalPM.com. You can subscribe to his newsletter here.