To excel as an individual contributor, it’s about solving functional problems, which means working more/harder/better/faster/smarter.
To excel as a manager, it’s about solving interpersonal problems, which means solving problems with a handshake.
To excel as an executive, it’s about solving political problems, which means controlling the frame through which others interpret their worlds.
I have this coworker that drives me nuts; I often just don’t like him. But when I’m being honest, it’s that I’m jealous of him. He is good at the things I’m not, naturally asserts his authority (ahem, even when it’s not his to assert), states things and doesn’t worry about all the things I worry about. Also, he creates great presentations. So I’m trying valiantly to appreciate him and be thankful we have him on our team instead of just disliking him and wishing he’d go away. If he went away, after all, one of us (ahem, me) would have to figure out how to do the things he’s doing – and I’m not good at them. That’s the point. I don’t just want him to go away, I want to be as good as he is.
So I tell myself, maybe next year. This year isn’t about being somebody else, it’s about learning how to be me. Maybe next year I’ll figure out how to make me slightly more like him, but this year isn’t for that. This year is for learning to be a manager.
I used to be the problem-solver (and I was good at it). Now, though, I’m the person who supports the problem-solvers. “Get the smart people together to make decisions, then point at them and say, ‘What they said!'” That’s my job. Much like finding my identify as a wife required thinking of myself (and my definition of success) in new ways, this gig is making me rethink what makes me good/ useful/ employable.
“I bring people together” is still sounding way, way too Office Space-y for me.
Happy Friday! (more fun stuff to come… and also more heavy stuff)