« Managing yourself | Main | Brian McDonald is Mister Rogers »

What is your job?

Last week was a pretty busy time for me, as we wrapped up a few projects, and started working on others. At one point, I found myself bemoaning that my Inbox had gotten away from me. "I've been so busy," I thought, "I haven't been able to do any work."

But wait - that's not right. I was busy meeting with people across campus, discussing initiatives, helping define new project work, documenting a strategy for the future. In short, I was doing the work of an IT Director. Which is what I am.

As you move upwards in the organization, your job changes, continually redefined. To succeed, you need to realize when to let go of your previous duties. The qualities and skills that helped put you in your current position may not be what moves you to the next level.

For example: my IT career started as a Unix systems administrator, working for a small geographics company. My ability to organize and communicate led my bosses to move me to systems administration "team lead". Eventually, that organization promoted me to "IS manager". As a manager, my success depended on coordinating the different teams. None of my Unix systems administration skills really contributed to my day-to-day work.

Today, as the campus IT director for the University of Minnesota Morris, my focus is on the strategic IT direction for the campus. That often involves meeting with different committees, explaining the vision for our IT future, getting buy-in, and building trust that we are moving in the right direction. Quite a change from Unix systems administrator, so long ago.

Think about what you bring to the organization. What is your job? In a leadership position, do you take "i-time" to reflect on the future of your organization? If you are a manager, have you delegated day-to-day responsibilities across your group, so you can focus on the strategic items?