Thursday, 18 November 2010

Meeting a boss

The other day we had a meeting with the boss, and I had to realise that I am pretty rubbish at this. See, there are skills, and there are skills, and with some of mine I seem to be in the wrong place at times.

All throughout ones life the training is around technical skill. Go to a school or a university, they will stuff you with mathematics and chemistry, and geography, and social studies... what is not a bad thing in general: One can find ones interest, enhance the knowledge in a particular field, get a brilliant job, and become stinking rich.

... or work your butt off and still never be happy. Hmmm?!

Well, people choose the wrong subject for various reasons: entering a profession for family tradition, because the prospects are better than in the dream job, or because one doesn't really know what to choose, which sort of was my career decision. C'mon, me and computer science?! Others are just very unlucky to never be in the right place at the right time; finding a job that they can fulfill, but which on the other hand poses enough of a challenge to stay interesting. And then there are the ones who get bad managers.

This might be one of the reasons why almost everybody wants to be a manager of some sort: To escape the managers. Well, money is a nice reason as well, for others power might be the driving force, but I am pretty sure that there are quite a few managers out there who were after 'freedom'. Poor things... they forgot, that unless you own your own business that is not gonna happen.

And this is exactly the thought that is bugging me at the moment: I always wanted to have my own company - but would I really be a good leader? And would it make me happy? If 'yes' one might think that I should have had the guts already to set something up and not working as a secretary anymore... that sounds pretty much like a 'no' then, doesn't it?

There is a sub-type of manager, though: The lone rider. A lone rider might work with a team, but he doesn't trust it. He hates to delegate and always has a plan 'B', 'C', 'D', and 'E' in place to be able to pull things off without any help. Well, THAT pretty much sounds like me...

And then this meeting happened. This boss is not a top-top manager, just high enough to make everybody fly and wanting to get things right, and he is a really nice guy - one of the listening and giving straight forward advice types. In his meetings one can practice stuff in a rather safe environment, and I always, always, wanted to have the opportunity to give a short presentation, with slides and all, something I know my stuff of, and where I would be in the limelight for a brief moment.  I just wanted to know how that feels, if I can do it, and if it is as satisfying as I envisioned it.

There I was, sitting around the table with my team, my slot came... and it was pretty rubbish. For starters I was too long, but that is a technical thing and can be learned; no... there was something else! Initially I couldn't put my finger on it and then it dawned on me: I am not a good team player! See, if it would have been me, I would have driven our project a little bit differently, and although I knew my stuff, I had to spin the story in a way which I would have liked to avoid. But that is what you do in a team: You cover!

Hence there were actually two things that went wrong: Firstly, I didn't have the freedom to do it my way, something I felt uneasy about. Secondly, when the boss started to ask questions, drilling bang into the very direction I had feared, I changed the focus of the talk without agreement of my team mates, and I am not entirely sure that I got that right, so I might have let the cover down. That means that 'team player' is off the table.

That leaves only one position for me, and luckily I am quite comfortable in it: The wing man! I am really rather brilliant in the second line. What makes me a great secretary, or a wife for that matter...and to be honest: Apart from the fact that those are not the best paid jobs in the world, I am pretty happy! So, one probably would want to be careful what to wish for when dreaming up career plans. It seems that the technical skill only plays a smaller part, it is much more important to figure out whether deep down in your heart you are a team player, a wing man, a lone rider, or a manager!


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