Leverage in large organisations
- Put time to think in your schedule. Thinking is working.
- Your career will be decisively impacted by things that don’t look like work - your kindness, how you communicate, how you collaborate, how you resolve ambiguity and conflict and so on.
- Your career is the most important product you (should) own and work on. Career needs work, planning and dedicated attention. If you wait and wish someone else advanced it, you’d end up disappointed with lost time.
- When you receive appreciation for hard work and success, don’t underplay it. Accept it graciously. When it’s your turn, be generous in appreciating teammates.
- Help up and help down. People don’t forget those who leave an impression and those who go beyond what’s expected of them. If you set the meeting, you owe the attendees an agenda and preparation beforehand. End them early if you can.
- Take your time to give estimates. Don’t commit on foot.
- Reason by debate with people. In order to make things work, you’ll have to convince people and negotiate with them. Prepare before meetings, create evidence and corroborative artefacts for leverage.
- Wait before you speak. Avoid speaking until the most in the room have done so first. Not only do you learn a ton but you can also craft your answer after hearing everyone’s inputs.
- Ask questions first, design later (often much later).
- Pair design. Find a great design partner who you can bounce off iterations with.
- Conduct 1:1s - lots of them. Understand people, ask questions, pick their brains and on-board them to ‘you’ - as a product. Go prepared, sound contextual, relatable and kind and end with the door open for future meetings.
- Talk less. Not everything that in your head needs sharing. Keep the bar high for when you speak up.
- Not having an opinion is fine (at times, good). It’s definitely better than having an uninformed one (also: avoid knee jerk reactions).
- Being able to network proactively and productively is an acquired skill. Introversion doesn’t help much in an increasingly collaborative workplace.
- It’s no longer about how good you’re with tools, it’s about how good you’re with people.
- Ask what you want. Ask respectfully but confidently. The problem many people don’t get much is because most never ask.
- A solid network is 20 - 40 extremely strong relationships instead of 200 - 500 weak acquaintances. Networking is tiring and largely futile if it lacks depth and a value-exchange.
- Building on top of that, in today’s world, people make careers happen. Your skills are essential but beyond that, how good you are with people becomes the differentiator in how far you can go. Being great at tools is an individual skill and is relatively easy and well defined. Being great with people, building relationships and keeping them alive and thriving over years takes effort that is non-linear, unstructured and emotional.
- Thinking in binary choices and binary outcomes is a very limiting and often erroneous way to assess situations. Binary thinking is reactionary.
- Situations and people in life are a collection of variables. They are of 3 kinds: Variables you control, variables you can influence and variables you cannot control or influence.
- People don’t pay attention to variables they can influence - because that takes non-linear effort and a lot of attempts to master the skill
- Be the person who takes decisions and keeps things moving. Always be deciding and moving projects forward. People love to argue, question, pose barriers and raise doubt. Seek bias for action despite the ambiguities. People who keep things moving are the most valuable assets to a team.
- Shippers and movers will always be invaluable to the company. They’re the ones who make things happen.
- Aim to become a generalist.
It can only get better but it could always be worse.
For everything going right in your life, always know that at any point the answer could’ve been ‘No’.