Tech Insights
Janaka Peiris
March 29, 2021

Title: How important is "Title" for a job well done?

Title:  How important is "Title" for a job well done?

Thanks to Robin Sharma, I came across the philosophy of “leadingwithout a title”, where he explains how anyone can show leadership withouthaving a formal title or higher authority. This sounds nice, but the majorityseems to be following the complete opposite!

I am speaking about the “Yes, give me the next title” (even if Iam not ready for it) mentality.

Being in the IT industry for almost two decades, I have seen howjob titles for almost identical job roles have changed with time. What we usedto call a “computer programmer” or “system developer” has become a “softwareengineer”. What is wrong with “developer”?

Why we crave a “title”

This is mainly because of the assumed importance society places on a title. We have seen how corporatebusiness is usually associated with suit-and-tie, and it’s all about showinghow “big” someone is. Everyone loves feeding the ego as it makes us feel moreimportant. The bigger we feel, the better. So, the craving for the ‘next title’continues.

Who wouldn’t like a catchy title?

The downside is, we see employees work “for a title” rather thantrying to show their skillset and prove their value through work. As annualreviews 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 levelof expertise required by the title. On one hand, it is a zero-cost approach forhiring and on the other hand, it makes flatter hierarchies less practical andeveryone demanding new titles every subsequent year. Hence we see many titlesinvented with ‘Senior’, ‘Lead’, ‘Chief’ or even ‘Level 1/2/3’ etc.

When is my next promotion?

“What’s the nextsolution 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 skilledenough is one thing but requesting a promotion without even knowing what thetitle requires is a sad reality. I see it especially in the IT industry. Forexample, when comparing titles across the world, it becomes a joke sometimeswhen a ‘programmer’ with similar experience is called with an ego-uplifting-title in another country. (I am purposely avoiding namingsuch titles).

Great innovators, great problem solvers… no 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 initialproducts including the Apple Macintosh computer, who had no title nor fame asSteve Jobs. In the biography of Steve Jobs, it is seen how Steve Wozniak added valueby inventions without expecting popularity or a title. It was as if the conceptof having a title was non-existent at the time.

Showoff the role you play, not the label you hold.

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 avoidgoing after a title. Are you ready to find out whether you have it?