If you only choose one resolution to implement this year, this is the one. Being able to delight someone (a concept I talk about below) can get you further in your career and build your network better than any other skill in the market.

How can I make that claim, especially when compared against broadening your knowledge base and building upon a strength (two of the other five New Years resolutions for IT leaders to implement)? I can say it because, in the words of the late master motivational speaker Zig Ziglar,

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

For example, I lead a team of writers for a technology company. I want to be successful. In my eyes, the better my writers do the better I do. My team members also want to be successful. Their success is tied to pay raises, bonuses and a sense of self-worth. If I can help them get what they want (success) then I can have what I want (success also, in this case). Consequently, I spend much of my time as a leader doing things to help them succeed.

For example, I recently built my writers a tool to help them measure their success on a specific task. They can then line up all their tasks and compare success, so they can see where they should put most of their efforts if they want to be successful.

Applying it to you

Delighting someone ties in closely with helping someone. Take Patrick Gray’s examples of delighting someone:

  • following up on a request that was tabled eons ago with a solution
  • contacting a customer with the status of a support request
  • drafting a quick executive briefing on a new technology

Following up with a solution will help that person get their job done better; letting a customer know about the status of their request will keep them informed so they can make decisions; if leadership understands new technology they can make better decisions about how to use it to become more effective. Clearly, delighting someone is what happens when you help them, and when you help them there is usually an indirect benefit to you.

Mindset shift

Instead of paying attention to individual tasks (“Did I do one thing to delight someone today?”) I suggest a complete mindset change in the way you think about your job. The way you do this is to ask yourself who you serve. Who are the people that are within your power to delight on a day-to-day basis.

In my business I don’t speak with any of our client’s directly, so they don’t fall into the category of “people I serve.” (On a big picture level I recognize that we all serve the customer, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.) Instead, I serve both the writers on my team and my direct supervisor. I serve my writers by providing feedback, building tools, communicating and doing whatever else is necessary to help them succeed. I serve my supervisor by providing him with any information he might need when talking with the client.

What about you?

What group of people can you serve and, as a result, delight? It could be the person on the other end of the phone or someone in another department. Whoever it is, make it your goal this year to serve them and delight them. I think that in the long run you’ll find that they – and you – are better for it.