Your Competence

In Chapter 4, Self-Leadership, we discussed that leaders need to take responsibility for continuously learning, gaining more and more knowledge and understanding of what is required to be a successful IT project leader. Those who do this can gain credibility with their team members, peers, senior leaders, and customer stakeholders. As depicted in Table 6-1, there is always more to learn about IT leadership.

Your personal credibility increases when you demonstrate a commitment to learning. No one expects you to know it all, but others do respect and respond to a passion for learning. Your resume may make you look credible, but by your demonstrating passion toward improving your knowledge, others feel your credibility. One of the best compliments I have ever received was when my CEO said, “When I know he is involved, I just get the feeling that everything will be fine.”

Table 6-1 IT Project Leader Competence Areas

Technical Competence

Technical Competence

  • • Software Engineering
  • • Software Development
  • • Graphic Design
  • • Network Engineering
  • • Network and Systems Administration
  • • Database Development
  • • Database Administration

Process Competence

  • • Agile
  • • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • • ISO 20000
  • • Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMi)

Leadership and Management Competence

  • • Strategic Visioning
  • • Program/Project Management
  • • Human Resources Management
  • • Communications
  • • Environmental Awareness
  • • Organizational Behavior

Your Oral Presentation Skills

People constantly observe each other’s character, most often subconsciously (Allgeier, 2009). We form thoughts, impressions, and opinions, and then we reform them. We observe each other’s behavior, forming subliminal opinions of examined principles of right and wrong, honor and condemnation, and morality and corruption. Silently, as others observe us, the decisions we make about our behavior either strengthen our credibility or degrade it.

Have you ever gotten the sense that someone you know is not authentic? Perhaps they brag, exaggerating the truth about their accomplishments and credentials. Perhaps what they say is not in line with what they do. They give you the sense that they are not showing you their real selves. The image they portray of themselves seems to be out of sync with your perception of them.

People want to get to know the real you. They want to know that they are dealing with an authentic person, not someone pretending to be someone they are not. If you brag in an effort to make yourself seem more capable than you really are, or if you embellish the truth about yourself, you come across as phony. Others pick up cues from your nonverbal behavior and your voice inflections that give you away. They subconsciously try to determine if you are being real. People don’t trust others when they sense they are hiding something, when they sense that the person they are engaging with is not demonstrating openness and transparency.

Introverts by nature are not open. They do not express their thoughts like extroverts do.

This can cause others to be suspicious of them, because it is difficult to detect what they are thinking. For many geeks who are introverts, this presents a challenge, because people have a difficult time getting a sense of who the geek really is.

As a versatile geek leader, it is important to learn to communicate in a way that makes others feel comfortable about you. Those we engage with expect IT leaders to master the basics: speaking clearly, enunciating properly, using correct grammar and diction, avoiding vulgar or sexist language and slang. Geeks also have to make an effort to not use jargon but to explain technical concepts in terms the listener understands. As stated in Chapter 2, meanings are in people, not in words, so find a way to use words to connect to the people you are addressing.

The key is to be yourself; do not pretend you have a style that is different from your natural style. If you are naturally introverted, let everyone know that. Let them know that you are aware that you could be perceived as aloof or self-absorbed, but the reality is that you like to think about things before discussing them and that you need time to digest information before responding. Whatever your style is, help the person you are engaging with engage with you by being transparent about how your mind works. This simple demonstration of transparency and authenticity can help others understand you, reduce suspicion, and build trust.

Perfection is neither possible nor required. It’s okay to show your warts, because doing so lets others know it’s okay for them to show theirs. Just be honest about your imperfections while demonstrating commitment to working hard to achieve the vision and goals of your project, to taking responsibility for leading your team effectively, and for improving your leadership ability along the way.

Use of Feedback

In Chapter 2, we explored the importance of feedback and dialogue in the communications process. Mastering this skill is important for IT geeks to improve their credibility with stakeholders. Through feedback, we send verbal and nonverbal signals to help others understand the message we are communicating and to assist others in communicating with us. Versatile leaders share their feelings and thoughts about the messages they receive and are mindful of others’ feelings about the messages they send. A versatile leader demonstrates personal credibility by using feedback and dialogue to mindfully reduce tensions in a conversation.

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