Thanks to Robin Sharma, I came across the philosophy of “leading without a title”, where he explains how anyone can show leadership without having a formal title or higher authority. This sounds nice, but the majority seems to be following the complete opposite!
I am speaking about the “Yes, give me the next title” (even if I am not ready for it) mentality.
Being in the IT industry for almost two decades, I have seen how job titles for almost identical job roles have changed with time. What we used to call a “computer programmer” or “system developer” has become a “software engineer”. What is wrong with “developer”?
This is mainly because of the assumed importance society places on a title. We have seen how corporate business is usually associated with suit-and-tie, and it’s all about showing how “big” someone is. Everyone loves feeding the ego as it makes us feel more important. The bigger we feel, the better. So, the craving for the ‘next title’ continues.
The downside is, we see employees work “for a title” rather than trying to show their skillset and prove their value through work. As annual reviews are done, and companies grow, formal employee evaluations are introduced. Simultaneously, companies are creating new titles to hire employees, even if they do not fit the level of expertise required by the title. On one hand, it is a zero-cost approach for hiring and on the other hand, it makes flatter hierarchies less practical and everyone demanding new titles every subsequent year. Hence we see many titles invented with ‘Senior’, ‘Lead’, ‘Chief’ or even ‘Level 1/2/3’ etc.
“What’s the next solution I can give or what’s the problem I’m given to solve”
has changed to
“When is my next promotion coming up?”!
Proving your abilities and getting promoted once you are skilled enough is one thing but requesting a promotion without even knowing what the title requires is a sad reality. I see it especially in the IT industry. For example, when comparing titles across the world, it becomes a joke sometimes when a ‘programmer’ with similar experience is called with an ego-uplifting-title in another country. (I am purposely avoiding naming such titles).
“Between Woz and Jobs, Woz was the innovator, the inventor. Steve Jobs was the marketing person.” — Apple employee #12 Daniel Kottke
Steve Wozniak, was the tech brainchild behind most of Apple’s initial products including the Apple Macintosh computer, who had no title nor fame as Steve Jobs. In the biography of Steve Jobs, it is seen how Steve Wozniak added value by inventions without expecting popularity or a title. It was as if the concept of having a title was non-existent at the time.
In IT, I remember the days we had just software developers, QA testers, and managers, yet we got all work done. You need the courage and maturity to avoid going after a title. Are you ready to find out whether you have it?