What a Difference 60 Years Makes

In 1957, the Soviet-made Sputnik streaked across the sky in low earth orbit. It was clearly visible to millions of concerned Americans. The Soviet government had leapfrogged America technologically. The dot that traversed the nighttime sky marked a change in international politics and fueled the engine that became America’s space program.

Another far more subtle shift was happening in America’s businesses as well. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, American employees gave their loyalty to their employer in exchange for a commitment for a career-long job within the organization.

Over the past 60 years, those commitments from employers have eroded. No longer are employees guaranteed a job for life. Likewise employees no longer extend boundless loyalty to their companies, readily changing jobs every few years for better opportunities, pay, and working conditions.

What does this mean for you, as an IT leader?

First, when a highly skilled and productive member of your team leaves for another job, it’s very disruptive. Your team’s effectiveness and perhaps morale suffers. To combat this trend, look for ways to engage and motivate your team. Create an environment and culture where your team feels that their work matters.

Second, recognize that your company is not managing your career trajectory. That is up to you. Don’t just allow your career to stagnate. Look for ways to continuously improve. This could mean honing your technical skills. However, you should not neglect the other skills required to excel. Learn to network generously, to communicate effectively, and to negotiate creatively.

For some of us these skills come naturally, as naturally as breathing. For the rest of us, they can be learned. Remember, people are not born great leaders. It takes work and commitment, but it’s available to all of us.

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