Thursday, March 29, 2012

Constructing Your Ground Floor

In today's blog post, I want share something I provided for my team that I believe is the cornerstone for success of any IT organization. I am not talking about technology, although that is a key component to any IT professional's job, I want to discuss the personality traits that are critical for the people that make up a team that strives to rise above mediocrity.


As you look ahead in your career and advance into high ranks or management, consider this: Is any position or role in the company sustainable without honesty? If you are not a person of your word, you will quickly find yourself not meeting your business partner's expectations and it could have a lasting effect on yourself and your team. It is important to give candid feedback and ensure that you do not fall short of your intended goals. That requires providing positive and negative opinions on target dates, infrastructure needs, and work assignments. Of course, we have to be flexible enough to know when we have to move forward with the assignment after we have given our advice.

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr states this message well:

Its simple, approach your colleagues and business partners with honesty, truthfulness, and an attitude to provide the best service possible, and then you have nothing to fear when something doesn't meet expectations.


While many equate honesty with integrity, they are not the same at all. Honesty is telling the truth. Integrity is being consistent. If you say that a piece of wood or steal "has integrity," you mean that it is consistent; there are no voids or weaknesses in it. The same is true of all of us. Honesty is one element, but it's not the only one by any means. Do you treat all your colleagues and business partners the same way? Do you communicate consistently? Do you do what you say you will do?

Each of these are elements of integrity. They are about having the character to be consistent even when it's not popular - or easy. The greater your integrity, the more potential you have for long term success.


What it the simplest way of distinguishing ourselves from others? Excellence. Being excellent at what you do and striving to deliver the absolute best results that you can every day. Learning and growing so that you are able to continuously improve whatever you do for your business colleagues. And consistently delivering the highest results.

Over the course of my career in technology, I have had the opportunity to work with many high-performing people. The thing I have always considered one of my key strengths throughout my career is that my business partners know that when I make a commitment to them, I will follow through and they will get more from the relationship then they expected to get. That is, I think, the primary reason I have continued to be successful over 22 years. The people I work with have trusted me and know I will deliver excellence.

When I started my career I was in Customer Service, my goal back then was to aspire to a Claims Representative or an Underwriting position. An opportunity in IT was available, and even though I didn't have the technical background for the position, my service skills won me the job. I have always been of the mindset that it is much easier to teach technical skills then it is to find someone with a service oriented personality that consistently delivers excellence.

Lay the groundwork.

Make sure you've constructed your ground floor in a way that will support all that will be built on it. Your character, your focus, your commitment to meeting goals. If you plan your goals effectively and mindfully, you will be able to manage the obstacles that present themselves. Being in IT means we must be good stewards to the environment we support; doing today those things that will help when pressure appears in the future.

"If you don't want to play in championship games and you don't want to achieve at the highest levels, then I don't want you here, because that's what I'm trying to do. I am not trying to finish fourth.

I'm convinced that if you get people onto your team who share the same goals and the same passion, and if you push them to achieve at the highest level, your going to come out on top."
- Bill Parcells

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