What’s in a Title?

by Nicholas George on March 31, 2011

I’ve been called a change agent, king builder, facilitator, trainer, marketer, father, friend, confidant, mentor, and probably a dozen other names.  The problem with these titles, as you might imagine, is that they don’t really say what it is that I do.  They all contain pieces of what I do, but none describe everything that I do. 

If you think about it, this is true of anyone’s title.  Does knowing a person is the president of a company tell you what they do?  We all guess they are in meetings a lot and talk about… what?  Unless there is some connection with that job – we just don’t know.  How about manager?  We suppose people are involved, although there are managers who only manage themselves.  The title doesn’t tell us what they do nor how they do it.  I was called a project manager for a number of years and yes, I managed projects but that doesn’t tell you anything about what kinds of projects, what issues I had to deal with, how large the project was, or any other detail.

The most interesting things about titles is that most people aspire to have the next title and companies look to hire people who have had certain titles because they assume, and hope, that will mean the person will be good for their company.  Sidebar: I’m aware there are a number of hiring people reading this right now and grumbling that it’s not what they are looking for in new employees; they want people who will fit with the company culture and will be an asset as soon as possible.  I agree with this statement while also asking about the process leading up to the interview, where you are looking for the good fit.  Are you interviewing everyone who sends an application/resume?  If not, how do you determine which resumes to look at?  Usually this involves some filter based on titles and credentials.

My point with all of this is not to argue for or against titles.  They are a part of our world.  The question isn’t what I call myself but how I do what I do for others? Whatever it is you need starts with me listening.  I listen to your words; the way you say the words; references to other things and I ask questions.  I start from the position you are smart, passionate, and want to succeed – oh yes, I also believe the answer is probably already inside you and my job is to find it and coach it out.  Believe it or not, I’m not an expert in all the fields I help people with but I am an expert at pulling expertise out of people.

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