Recognize IT Champions

Courage requires you to set aside personal preferences to do what's best for your company as a whole.

January 20, 2003

3 Min Read
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The IT arena may not be so public and its feats may not be so inspirational, but the courage of its professionals is no less noteworthy. Under the worst technology market conditions in more than a decade, the very best of your peers are rising above the fray with the breadth of their expertise, the flexibility of their approaches, and the depth of their vision and character.

Courage in IT manifests itself in varied ways and situations. There's the courage to break out of your comfort zone or champion alternatives to the status quo--to stand up for what your experience and expertise dictate is in your company's best interests, even if your peers or managers don't see eye to eye with you.

As a manager yourself, value the software developer who pushes the benefits of Linux or Java-based Web services when his company is a Windows shop. Respect the network manager who sticks her neck out for a best-of-breed solution when her company is standardizing on one vendor's systems.

Courage, however, doesn't mean going off half-cocked. It demands that you set aside personal preferences and even vested interests to do what's best for your company as a whole--to see the forest for the trees. Courageous acts are often selfless acts. Admire the project team members who have the guts to recommend an outsourcing arrangement that could threaten their job security. Look up to those courageous enough to admit when they're wrong or in over their heads. No one follows a know-it-all.

Where Credit Is Due

As a profession, we need to do a better job of recognizing those who deliver results. One hard-working public sector IT director recently confided in me that what discourages him most about his job is that, at the end of the day, he doesn't feel he's made a difference. For the most part, he's not saving lives, but I suspect that this manager is leaving a bigger mark on his world than he knows--it's just that no one in his organization has taken the time to recognize the value he delivers week in and week out.

Remember to recognize even the "little" achievements on a regular basis. And don't just congratulate individuals individually; single out top performers publicly, whether in an e-mail blast or at a group meeting.

While you're at it, don't just pay notice to the self-promoters and show-offs. Jesse Owens wasn't just a champion sprinter and jumper; he was also a man of consummate humility and integrity. And while Ali regularly reminded the world that he was "the greatest," he didn't earn that reputation until he matured and began approaching the public with modesty and grace.

Every company should have a formal program for recognizing its top technical talent. Beyond the standard (or what used to be standard) promotions, pay raises and employee-of-the-month awards, how do you creatively recognize courageous acts of IT initiative and ingenuity? Let us know at the e-mail address below and we'll post some of the best ideas on our Web site at

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