Was hardcore techie in my early years of career, just like every other engineer in India. Mind you, only a handful of blessed souls get to do higher education in the field of business or engineering. Most of the folks from the middle-class family complete their engineering. And start searching for a job immediately. Not that we are not studious, we can't afford to do higher studies in specialised streams. Anyways, soon I matured in my career and it occurred to my leaders that I'm ready to be a leader (they were jealous? since I was having all the fun...).
I was told by my then VP that the first lesson for being a leader is that
You lose the right to complain !
I didn't realise it then, but soon into the job I understood what he meant by that. Oh boy !
Moving on, it took me couple of years to understand the value of leadership as a trait. It needed a different set of capabilities, skill-sets and thought process. In the technical world, everything was a boolean, either true or false. Come to people management and project management, there were lots of ambiguity. I haven't either solved it before or don't know how to go about it, because things were not clear! The mistake was, I was trying to apply logic to every situation that dawned on me and that wasn't the way it was gonna work.
Human tendency - I started complaining.... and there was the reminder again;
'Do whatever you want, but you can't complain'
Remember I lost that right !
Small or big, for every problem that came up, I worried. Most of the times, I used to lose sleep over that. Additionally, I wanted to solve the problem then and there which wasn't the wise choice. As I grew in the role, I realised the fact that there isn't a right or wrong approach. Neither do I have to find a solution immediately. Some times, it helps to take a break and start analysing the situation afresh, sometimes the next day.
Then came the second lesson -
Right or Wrong, stand up & own it for your team.
This was even more difficult. See, as an individual contributor you could accept or deny mistakes completely. There are two angles to it.
- You get to learn from your mistakes, it's a win.
- You wouldn't have a problem accepting the mistake, well, in most-cases.
In spite of many guidelines & mentoring, people still screw up and things do slip. It's a fact of life and the faster you embrace it, the more easier it is for you to move on and to actually rectify it. It taught me to stand-up for my team and to own up mistakes while passing the accolades to the team when things go right.
Learnt many more valuable lessons but I still reckon that the two most valuable lessons are;
- Don't Complain, Fix it.
- Stand-up for your team.
The two most appreciated and desired qualities have to be these two, IMHO.