Monthly Archives: February 2010

Chapter 5: But I Can’t Because…

(This is part 5 in a series of posts where I document my progress through reading Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach by Gerald Weinberg, answering the questions at the end of each chapter)

1. Do you know someone whose leadership style you particularly admire?

“Try to create a short career biography of this person, characterized in MOI terms. If possible, interview the person to check your perceptions.”

I can’t really name anyone for this exercise. This has been the primary reason I’ve been sitting on this blog post – the rest of it has been ready for quite a while now. I’ll just have to move on, unfortunately.

2. When was the last time you made a major change in your career?

“Which do you remember best, the factual details, or the feelings?”

I think the one and only major change so far has been leaving my first job after nearly seven years. I was primarily anxious, and afraid that I wouldn’t be good enough for the “real world”. Definitely feelings.

3. How did you react the last time someone you know well made a major career change?

“What else does that tell you about yourself?”

I was happy for that person, and a little envious. I felt like they were going somewhere, while I wasn’t. It’s mostly an issue of low self-esteem.

4. What change in your career have you made that you still don’t fully accept?

“don’t fully admit to others? to yourself? Can you now let go of it? Why?”

I’m not sure what this question is asking. A change that I wasn’t actually fully aware of, and hence don’t accept it, or a change that was forced on me? Either way, I don’t think I have any good examples.

5. Can you remember the first major decision point in your career?

“Can you still recall your feelings? Were you afraid to take the step? Was your fear justified? Was it worth it anyway?”

See question 2. Yes, I was afraid. Yes, I think the fear was justified, because I didn’t think we had ever assessed our actual competence level realistically. It was worth it, though. The next time I moved to a new job, I wasn’t anxious, and I think I made a point of looking at the right things when making the decision. I also got valuable experience from that job.

6. What are your choices for the next major decision point?

“What happens to your body as you contemplate each possible alternative? What messages pop into your mind?”

More or less direct responsibility. More or less of time in the spotlight. Less seems comfortable, but a bit boring. More makes me nervous and excited. The messages are along the lines of “do you want to make a difference or not?”

7. Have you ever been appointed Leader of anything?

“Did people begin to assume that you, as Leader, would now handle situations that they could perfectly well handle themselves? How did you deal with these situations? Were you so taken with your new status that you tried to handle them yourself, rather than delegating them where they belonged? How did your actions affect the group’s later reactions to you as Leader?”

Worse. I was so taken with my status, that I tried to handle things even when nobody asked me to! It lead to tension, bad decisions and me realizing that I wasn’t anything close to a real leader.

8. Next time you are appointed Leader of some group, keep a list of situations …

“… in which people assume that you as Leader will come up with the crucial ideas, but in which you exercise leadership by changing the environment so as to encourage them to do it. Keep going until you have at least ten items.”

Um, OK.

9. Have you ever felt when appointed Leader that you were essential to the group?

“What did the group do when you were not around? What did they do when you eventually left? Could there have been some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy in operation?”

See question 7.

10. For some group you work with, consider ho much of your influence in that group derives from your appointed position.

“How much comes from your idea power? How much from enhancing the idea power of others? Are you satisfied with this mix?”

Influence from appointed position is something I’d like to mostly do without. Most of my influence tends to come from my own actions and ideas. So far, I haven’t been very good at enabling others, except when paired with someone who is a good match with me.

11. Tomorrow morning change your traditional breakfast in some way.

“Notice if your day changes.”

I seemed to be a bit more focused in the morning, having a routine-breaking thing I needed to do.

12. For the next two weeks, change your breakfast each day according to some new idea each day

“(such as fewer or more calories, faster of slower preparation, more or less wholesome, more interaction with other people, less interaction with others, more appealing to look at, thirty minutes later, thirty minutes earlier, in a different place, using different utensils, hot instead of cold, cold instead of hot, more liquid, less liquid). Note what, if anything, is happening to you, and summarize the effect at the end of the two weeks.”

After a couple of days I settled into a mode, where I expected that my morning routine, while being routine, would change every day. I tried to avoid planning too much in advance, so I had to think on my feet to respond to the changes. I’d go as far as to say I was a bit more prepared for routine things to change in other areas of my day.

13. Tomorrow change the way you interact with some person you see frequently.

“Try to do it in such a way as to improve your interaction. Note the results.”

A tiny bit of conscious effort daily can have a huge positive impact on interaction, at least when both parties are naturally inclined to get along anyway. :)

 

Previously: Chapter 4: How Leaders Develop  Next up: Chapter 6: The Three Great Obstacles to Innovation