In my three decades of career, I have had the fortune of working with accomplished and committed managers who taught me and contributed to shaping my career. I have also had the good luck of working with some of them in multiple stints. While there are hundreds of things I have learnt from each of them, here are the seven exceptional lessons that stand out for me. (These are not in any order or priority)
- Upward delegation is easy. Finding a solution is hard. When you do not have an option to escalate a problem to your superiors, it forces you to get out of the comfort zone. It challenges your mind to look for solutions. Over time, it becomes a habit. You become more independent, and escalations reduce.
- Simplicity & breaking down. However complex a matter is, if you cannot explain something in a straightforward sentence, you have not understood it all and well. One must distil and comprehend a piece of information or a problem. Anyone can become a postman. Only those who have grasped it well can add value.
- Passion without perception. If you passionately believe in something, do it because you like it. Please don’t bother about how others will perceive it. Their perception is not your reality.
- When you are in Rome, be a Roman. It is not enough if you know your domain skills very well. Knowledge of the industry or sector you are working in is equally essential. In many situations, we do not get enough time to deep dive to understand the industry. But that can’t be an excuse. We have to find a way.
- Ready to plunge and dirty hands. This is a lesson that goes hand in hand with the earlier one. It is essential to learn the tricks of your trade thoroughly. When there is no one to support you or help you resolve a problem or do a job, you can take control of the situation and solve it yourself. Ability to fix things yourself is a great asset. It also comes in handy when you don’t have a team.
- Your work commands respect. At the workplace, your work defines who you are. You are as good as your last success or achievement. An educational pedigree is a good door opener. It certainly can neither guarantee respect nor eternal recognition.
- Know your elevated pedestal. When you work with celebrated managers or get a chance to write about them or interview them, be realistic about the dynamics. It makes you humble and grounded. You are able to think clearly with your head and not your heart.
In the world we are living today, time is a precious asset. No one has the time to sit with you and teach you how to do your work. You have to navigate through everything. What has helped me all these years are picking up cues, observing one’s style of working and as far as possible adapting my work quickly. If I have one size fits all thinking and strategy, it may not work. No two managers are the same. They are, after all, humans too!
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