What sets the top IT professionals apart from the mediocre ones? It’s not what you think; no, it’s not your job title and it’s not about the number of certifications or degrees you have either.
Instead, it pays to practice these habits of top IT professionals:
- See the big picture.
Whether it’s information security, software development or simply putting out fires, successful IT pros understand how IT impacts business. Former assistant secretary of education Diane Ravitch once said, “The person who knows how will always have a job…the person who knows why will always be his boss.”
Think about the long-term impact of the choices you make, how you relate to others and how effective you are at actually getting things done. They all have a tremendous impact on how successful you’ll be.
- Never underestimate your ability to think over or around obstacles.
The top professionals know that thinking is the highest paid work. In fact, the ability to think both analytically and creatively will impact success in IT more than anything else. It will take you further than you would expect.
Get sharp and stay sharp. Fine-tune your skills in the ways that will not only benefit you but also your employer. By doing so you’ll make yourself indispensable.
- Be confident, but know your weaknesses.
Successful IT pros know what they’re good at, but they also understand that there’s no way to know it all. You’ll always come across people who are smarter than you, but who cares? That’s not what makes a successful professional. Never be afraid to admit that you don’t have all the answers. Use the skills you’ve got and prove to colleagues that you’ll always do whatever it takes to get the job done.
- Understand that time is a precious asset.
Time-wasting habits add little value to anyone’s career and should never get in the way of the most critical aspects of your job. There’s never enough time to complete everything in IT, but if you focus on your highest payoff tasks you’ll always complete the things that matter. Set business and career goals and hold yourself accountable. You can double your efficiency and effectiveness.
- Know that colleagues want to do business with people they like and respect.
Take the time to build relationships and show others that you are a person of value. Technical competency is important in IT, but so is being trustworthy and credible. Focus on being a likeable person who brings something to the table as much as you focus on sharpening your technical skills.
Step back and ask yourself if you’re giving everything you’ve got. Are you pleased with your own work? Most importantly, can you do better? Sure you can -- we all can. And don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone.
Never forget that more isn’t always better. You don’t need to know it all, work 100 hours a week or try to please everyone. Instead, take some time out and concentrate on these five areas. Make a point to work a little less and focus on the things that matter. You’ll accomplish more and end up being a happier IT pro.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Beaver is an information security consultant, expert witness and professional speaker with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. With over 23 years of experience in the industry, Kevin specializes in performing independent security assessments involving information risk management. He can be reached at www.principlelogic.com and you can follow in on Twitter at @kevinbeaver.
This was first published in April 2012