Paul Glen: Want to own the future? Build rich relationships

For more than 20 years, I've been hearing complaints, concerns and panicked hysteria about the end of the IT career as we know it. Just below the surface, we all seem to think that we're about to get the ax. And that's because we persistently misunderstand what our business partners want most from us. We think they just need the best technician, but they don't.

What they need most, now and in the future, are technical people who can communicate and collaborate with nontechnical people. Regardless of their specialty, individuals who can work across the cultural divide between geeks and nongeeks will always be highly valued and in short supply.

My business partner and I have taken to referring to these folks as "The Magical People." Everyone knows who they are. They are the ones we in IT turn to when we really need business to understand our point of view. They are the ones business people turn to when they need jargon interpreted, or details distilled down to what's most important. With some sort of magical, inborn translation device, they build consensus, drive decisions and get results.

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What makes these people magical?

Empathy: They are able to grasp not only what business people want and need, but how they feel. They can sense the emotional state of others and reflect that awareness back in ways that make others feel understood.

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