The most successful IT professionals have two traits: competence and people skills

I’ve spent the last 22 years working in IT. I started my career as a system consultant at Automatic Data Processing, and now I’m the deputy chief information officer at Partners HealthCare in Boston. Through the years, I’ve managed and mentored hundreds of IT professionals. After all this time, the thing that I know for sure is that the most successful IT professionals have this in common: they are competent and they have strong relationship skills.  

We all know competent when we see it. We describe the person as someone who “knows her stuff.” She gets things done. She knows how to work through complicated situations and arrive at solutions. She learns from past experiences. And just like a good wine, her strengths grow with time.  

We also recognize strong relationship skills when we see it. We describe the person as being “solid.” He works well with others. He is focused on doing the right thing. He cares about things beyond his own world. He stays true to his word. He stands up and takes blame when something fails. He steps aside and lets others receive credit when a job is well done. He knows how to work effectively through delicate situations. 

I’m sure you know people who are competent, but you cringe at the thought of spending any time with them. I’m sure you know people who are incredibly nice but just can’t seem to get a darn thing done. To be successful, you need to be strong on both sides of the see-saw. And you should never consider yourself finished honing either side.  

I will use this blog to cover strategies for developing competencies and relationship skills, all in the spirit of helping you to manage your career in IT. I look forward to your comments, questions, and debate.

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