If you want to be a rock star in IT, forget those words. Today’s successful IT team is not a collection of stars or star wannabes. Today’s successful IT teams are collections of people who broadly understand what each person is doing while narrowly focusing on their own tasks to support the team’s goals and the overall organization direction.
Long gone are the all-knowing OS Engineer, Router Ruler or Java Junkie who dictates how users will receive data, what the interface will look like or who can access network resources. IT teams today provide services rather than mandate rules.
So how do you provide rock star value in IT?
1. Always be willing to learn. Something in the environment or the organization may have changed nine minutes ago that makes what you know obsolete.
1. Transform “no” into “yes, and … .” Where the “and … ” is followed by costs, resource needs, regulations or other barriers that initially caused you to think “no.”
1. Ask for help. Fixing bad work is three times worse than asking for help to do work right the first time. Not convinced? Time 1 = Doing bad work. Time 2 = Someone finding the bad work and identifying the needed corrections. Time 3 = Doing work again.
1. Be yourself and be consistent. If you are the peace and happiness coder who wants every interface to be a work of art, be that. Your team will learn when to ask for your help. If you are not, then do not try to fake it because your team will ask you for help at the wrong time and you will all fail.
1. Support your team by being your best and doing your best work every time. Great competitors are at their best when they compete with other great competitors. Notice, this is the only “me” part of the rock star value you can provide.
By now you see there are five No. 1s, and that is the key to providing rock star value in IT — understanding that all of these points are equally important and equally valued. Today’s IT rock stars do them all well so that the team becomes the star, not any one team member.
So, how do you know if you are an IT rock star contributor? One answer might be to consider whether you are asked. If you are regularly asked to be part of a team, work on new projects, brainstorm or otherwise participate in work that requires collective effort, then your value to the team is understood and acknowledged by those who ask. However, if your work is excellent yet others do not ask you to contribute, perhaps your IT skills need supporting soft skills to help others see the value you have to offer. Remember, only one of the five No. 1s above is about your technical skill, which means 80 percent of being an IT rock star is about the rest — it is about supporting other people.
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