The secret
code

What is The Secret Code? It consists of six skills we’ve identified in each of the top IT professionals chosen for the survey. Of course, these specialists are also extremely skilled in their IT specialties – that’s a requirement for being part of the 7N team. But the survey shows that what really makes a difference is the way a specialist uses his or her IT skills.

Each of the six skills includes with five important characteristics plus a short explanation. The skills are also illustrated with quotes from interviews. You will find a number of brief examples of the way specialists use the skills in practice. The examples are divided into three levels that tell you whether the specialist uses the skill ‘successfully’, ‘on average’ or ‘with difficulty’.

All of the7N IT professionals in the survey use most skills successfully, but some have one or two average marks. The additional examples of ‘on average’ or ‘with difficulty’ are based on interviewees’ experiences with other specialists who have not met their expectations.


Insight into own strengths and weaknesses

“Knowing what you do not know is a kind of omniscience.” The words of the Danish inventor and poet Piet Hein could well serve as the motto for those capable IT professionals who recognize the limitations of their own abilities. They strive for excellence within their field, but never hesitate to ask others for help to achieve the best solution to a given project.

A specialist of this kind is:

  • Open about his or her own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Knows with great certainty what he can manage himself and when to ask others for help.
  • Demonstrates professional expertise without being self-assertive or intrusive.
  • Knows the necessity of keeping himself professionally updated and flexible.
  • Deliberately seeks to command a wide range of different technologies.

Delivers high performance under pressure

An uptime of almost 100 per cent – even during peak periods. Such are the demands usually made on critical IT systems. But the most skilled IT professionals meet these demands as well

The reliable specialist:

  • Acts in a calm and reliable manner in high-pressure situations. Does not miss important details, even when things move fast.
  • Maintains control of the situation and keeps calm when things get hectic and others begin to lose focus.
  • Executes confidently despite the frustration of others.
  • Does not get sidetracked by opposition but keeps focused on reaching the defined target.
  • Demonstrates great patience and support – even in stressful situations. Exhibits and conveys an extremely high work ethic.

Holistic project understanding

A distinguishing feature of a highly successful IT professionals is his ability to understand all dimensions of a complex development project, from the purely technical problems to commercial advantages to human relations within the client’s organization.

The specialist:

  • Decodes with great expediency and precision all relevant decision makers and key figures inside and outside the organization. Forms a general view of internal and external cooperative relations.
  • Identifies the problems that are most imminent in relation to the project’s success criteria and thoroughly assesses their possible causes.
  • Covers more aspects of the project than those that are strictly it related – e.g. Strategy, user perspectives, commercial potential, etc.
  • Systematically acquires all relevant facts about the project, and relates them to internal political and discretionary circumstances in order to attain a more comprehensive understanding of the situation.
  • Recognizes technical and cooperative problems before they become evident to others.

Diplomatic authority

Professional skills of superior quality can be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. A brilliant IT professional can kill the motivation of a team if he ruthlessly hammers through his own – correct – solutions. On the other hand, a specialist cannot make do with diplomacy and a what-do-you-think? approach. Successful specialists master this balance between diplomacy and authority.

The specialist:

  • Uses his professional and personal authority to influence the project, to direct attention to a given aspect, or, when necessary, to inspire a demotivated project participant.
  • Uses his professional overview to influence the participants of a given project. This is achieved without manipulation and without exposing anyone’s professional weaknesses.
  • Shows balanced consideration for all parties involved. Assumes authority if a conflict between project participants could potentially damage the project targets or results.
  • Has the capacity to absorb frustrations that might impede the progression of the project. Maintains the necessary pressure on participants who may be obstructing the project; ensures that the pressure is adjusted constantly to suit the nature of the obstruction and the position of the participants in question.
  • Initiates radical or extensive changes while ensuring an attractive future role for all participants.

Social capacity

Not everyone has the natural ability to fit in comfortably among a lot of new people in an unfamiliar organization. Yet it is an important skill for those seeking to create smooth working relationships on a difficult project. It demands more than simple politeness and professional interest in other people.

It professionals who genuinely master this skill:

  • Act calmly and have a confident situational awareness in professional and social contexts.
  • Initiate social activities in the group.
  • Make sure that everyone is involved and that no one feels left out.
  • Act in a helpful and polite manner, assuming the qualities of ‘a good friend’.

Empathy

The IT professional has a particularly fine-tuned sense of empathy that lets him accurately register and interpret other people’s signals and act accordingly.

The specialist:

  • Discovers if a particular participant is experiencing job dissatisfaction before this becomes evident to others, but does not expose this problem.
  • Senses even the smallest negative vibes from the people around him, whether such signals are directed at him or someone else in the group.
  • Registers nuances in other people’s attitude towards a given matter. Analyzes opposition and mood changes among project participants.
  • Understands the challenges and specific problems of all parties involved and is able to move freely between various intellectual and emotional positions.
  • Meets everyone without prejudice and with open and accommodating behaviour.

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