Thursday, March 11, 2010

Developing Key Skills Beyond Technology

No matter what IT job you have, and no matter what industry it’s in, you will have greater success in your role if you develop certain key skills that will benefit your organization. The catch: these aren’t just IT skills. While your technology expertise is critical, organizations need to see you, hear from you, and understand your vision for how technology can drive the organization forward.

Converge Magazine’s Philip J. Brody recently wrote about IT leaders in the education sector and the need for them to function in more ways than just as technology expert for their school districts, but his advice is wise in all industries, not just education. He said, “It is naive to assume that simply because you have a good idea, people will buy into it. No, just as our political leaders do, you must sell your vision to the district leadership, so they buy into both you and your vision. This means getting out of your office to meet with a variety of district personnel and stakeholders, including those on the instructional side of the house, for without their support you are in competition with them for resources.”

Similarly, Denise Dubie of Network World wrote about the need for IT professionals to develop vertical skills that reach further than technology alone. She quoted Lily Mok, vice president of Gartner’s CIO Research: "Companies looking to fill internal IT roles will focus more on crucial business-facing positions. There is no longer a blurring between IT and the business; those barriers are broken down now. IT will be expected to take more of a leadership role and make decisions for the business. IT needs to look for opportunities to really help the business transition from recession to recovery. IT needs to do more than support the business now; it needs to prepare an organization to return to growth and show how technology can be used to help the business shine."

If the “barriers” between IT and business are “broken down now,” it will be wise for you as an IT professional to develop the other skills—communication, project management, and leadership—to be an overall contributor to your organization.

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