|By Loraine Antrim||
|July 20, 2009 01:00 PM EDT||
The late Walter Cronkite as a role model for IT managers? At first glance, we might not see the connection between "the most trusted man in America" and high tech management. But if we pull back the layers of how Cronkite approached his job, there are solid day-to-day career lessons for those working in IT.
Seven Best Practices Straight From the Desk of Uncle Walter
1. Explain things in a simple way so everyone can understand. CBS' Bob Schieffer said people "understood Cronkite was guiding you through events." He translated the complex or hard to understand in a way that made you nod and think, "I get I now." When explaining the impact of an IT project for your organization, break it down so the non-techies get the light bulb over their heads. Explain it so your mother can understand it--use the criteria: how would Cronkite say this?
2. Have an unbridled enthusiasm. Neil Armstrong said that Cronkite's "enthusiasm was contagious." To the outside world, IT can be a drab, dry topic. When speaking about your technology contribution, inject an energy and passion about the project so the entire organization feels jazzed and gets behind your initiative.
3. Have a passionate curiosity. Schieffer noted that Cronkite had an, "insatiable, almost childlike curiosity about everything he did." Keep your thirst for knowledge alive and find ways to instill that childlike curiosity in your team. It will pay off in innovation.
5. Don't make judgments; just present facts. One reason Cronkite was so honored as a newsman was he presented the story without embellishment or opinion. He was pure objectivity. When presenting your data and analysis, don't tilt the results. You can interpret the data fairly for the listener, but let the facts speak for themselves.
6. Value accuracy. Cronkite never had to make retractions or apologies for information that was not accurate. Think like a reporter: double and triple check your facts and sources and you'll never have to apologize for incomplete, inaccurate or outdated information.
7. Don't act superior. You never saw Walter Cronkite come off as someone who thought he was smarter than the rest of us. He was just somebody who did his homework. You know you "get" the technology, but acting as if you were Al Gore, inventing it, is not the best calling card. A better tactic might be to act as the interpreter of all that IT knowledge, sharing it in a way that makes people feel comfortable approaching you for insights and information.
Would you like to be known as the "most trusted man or woman in IT" in your organization? Not an easy task, but following Cronkite's timeless guiding principles is a great first step.
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