“7 career milestones you’ll meet on the CIO and IT management track” on enterprise.nxt, May 28, 2018.
Becoming an IT leader requires knowledge, skill, confidence, and a considerable amount of ambition. Not everyone is cut out to be a CIO, CTO, or other C-level IT executive, but those who feel the need to lead and succeed settle for nothing less.
“IT professionals should be more diligent than other professions when it comes to setting career goals and actively managing to meet those goals,” observes Alan Zucker, founding principal of Project Management Essentials, a company that provides project management and agile software development training services. “IT is such a dynamic and fast-paced profession that those who do not set and meet those goals are destined to be left behind.”
1. You’re assigned your first supervisory position. You’re a boss now, but that doesn’t mean you have to be aloof or unfriendly. Yet you also shouldn’t try to be everyone’s buddy. After all, if it becomes necessary at some point to discipline, demote, or reassign an employee, having a close friendship with the individual can make the task difficult and uncomfortable. This is particularly true if you “moved up through the ranks” and are supervising recent co-workers.
The important thing is to treat your staff reasonably and fairly. Ask for feedback and input. You can’t know everything, and displaying your ignorance on a critical issue only creates staff dissension and resentment. “My boss was promoted into a new role, and I was selected to replace him,” Zucker recalls. Like many first-time managers, Zucker was ill-prepared to manage. “One of my biggest mistakes in that first new job was thinking that somehow I became smarter just because I was now the manager.”
7. You decide to leave your leadership post. All good things must come to an end. No one can expect to be a leader forever. Yet retirement day doesn’t have to mark the end of your career. It can, in fact, move you toward even greater respect and income as you put decades’ worth of knowledge and experience to work solving problems for other organizations.
Zucker points to himself as an example. “For the past year, I have been providing instruction and advisory consulting services,” he says. Zucker misses leading but otherwise has no regrets. “I am sharing my years of experience with others, and that is a gift,” he explains.