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Home arrow Management arrow IT Project Management: A Geek Guide to Leadership


Self-talk is very powerful. What you say to yourself influences who you are in both positive and negative ways. Positive self-talk provides life-giving nutrients to your brain, building neural pathways that enable you to grow and become what you want to become. Negative self-talk is poison. It cripples your mind, debilitates your self-image, and restricts your growth.

We begin our exploration of self-talk with an examination of the self. Then, we will cover inner motivation. Next, you will learn how to rewrite your own code in order to take on the IT geek leadership mindset. Finally, we will talk about improving your self-talk in order to improve your self-leadership.

The Self

The self is created in the conscious mind. We mentally integrate our unique collection of perceptions, beliefs, and feelings to form the self. The self consists of three aspects: personality, self-concept, and self-esteem (Kehoe, 2011).

As self-leaders, our challenge is to know ourselves. We are challenged to observe our own personality—our needs, perceptions, and emotional reactions—and the personality we perceive to be required for leaders, and then we make the effort to adapt. We are challenged to observe our own self-concept and then to understand our strengths and weaknesses in how we define ourselves in relation to leadership.

Our self-concept is based on how we see the world, not necessarily how the world is. Our ability to make these changes, considering the complexity of knowing oneself, is quite challenging. Our success rate for adapting to situations that require leadership impacts how we feel about ourselves—our self-esteem.

Our self-concept is in motion, constantly changing through interactions with others. We enhance certain parts of who we are and hide others. We are constantly changing through interactions with others, growing and adapting to meet their needs while they do the same to meet our needs (Kehoe, 2011).

Researchers have found that most people and organizations are able to perform effectively if they strive to understand themselves and each other, then adjust their behavior and change the way they communicate (Institute for Management Excellence, 2003). They have to work to progress toward better teamwork and productivity. But they must first be committed to positive change. Our personality’s enduring characteristics include our needs, perceptions, and emotional reactions. These characteristics influence our reactions to the world across a variety of situations (Kehoe, 2011). Psychologists have found that personality is a consequential system, in which personality characteristics follow as a result or effect of the situations we face. Just as individuals develop Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) preferences early in life that usually do not change, our personalities exhibit persistent patterns over time that influence our lives (Mayer, 2014).

As we discussed in Chapter 2, the MBTI helps us understand how our conscious minds process information. The tendency of IT professionals to be introverted and to prefer working alone makes effective communications and motivation challenging. This introverted tendency impacts their ability to communicate with their team, peers, and leaders. We also discussed the Big Five Study in Chapter 2, which found that IT professionals scored low on visionary style and may have trouble thinking strategically, which is another core leadership requirement.

While the MBTI preferences may not change, the personality patterns can change as people adapt to their situations, choosing when to use their preferred behavior style and when to use one of their less preferred styles.

IT geeks can learn to adapt to the leadership mindset—to use their less-preferred extraverted preference, to establish and lead others to pursue a clear vision, to value teamwork and collaboration; IT geeks can learn leadership just as a programmer that prefers Visual Basic can learn to code in C#.

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