Career Gifts

Beware of geeks bearing gifts

I mentioned last week about reading the book the Leadership Pipeline.  When thinking about the phases of leadership outlined in this book, and the values and traits that are required at each level, I’ve had a few moments of pause. 

Frankly, there has been some internal cringing as I am reminded of Michael Scott -worthy behavior I have exhibited.  Then there was the realization about how lucky I have been.

Sorry, for those who were looking for entertainment in this post, today I want to talk more about those career gifts I was given that I didn’t recognize at the time

The first falls under a category I think of as micro-coaching.    The feedback you are given informally, often as just a passing comment, that makes you think and helps you grow.

My best example of micro-coaching was from a colleague and good friend (we’ll call him Max) who helped get me promoted to my first Vice President role.   

I was complaining to Max about the extra workload and wondering if I was going to be able to do the job.  He explained to me that the nature of the job was that there was always going to be more work than time and that my job would be to decide which things got done and which things did not. 

At the time I thought he was crazy, now I realize this was exactly my blind spot.  If I had not shifted my perspective on this topic, I would never have been able to scale as the job required.  I will not say that the change came easily, but it helped a lot to be pointed in the right direction.

My other big career gift, was when I got a job that stripped me of all my technical resources.  I was put in charge of a development team, who worked in a technology I did not know myself.  While, at the time, this was terrifying, it has proven to be one of the biggest career gifts I was ever given.  Being required to learn to manage people to do tasks I had no ability to do myself, gave me so many great tools.  When you cannot take a task on yourself, you value the skills of your team so much more and you have no choice but to learn to delegate to the appropriate level.

Both of these career gifts are powerful since their value is about perspective.  At the time I would have described the events so differently, but today I see them as seminal to my professional development. 

What career gifts have you given to others?  What have you received yourself?  How do you view them differently today than you did when you got them? 

I would like to say thank you to everyone who has helped show me the way in my career so far, and for those of you who are still helping me today.  These gifts are the ones I cherish forever.

11 thoughts on “Career Gifts

  1. I was just reading your blogs at and read your post about gifts you’ve received in your career. Just wanted to share a gift I received recently that I think is making a big difference to me personally and hopefully my career… The Iphone 3g.. Seriously! … Perhaps I better explain… it enabled me to access some incredibly useful podcasts that are distributed via iTunes on management and career. The podcasts, instantly hit home with me because they don’t go into a lot of technical terminology, but instead are incredibly practical. I found that many of the things these podcasts teach were techniques we had already been practicing but more importantly highlighted areas I can improve on.

    I particularly like their style or presentation and the range of topics. For example they cover the importance of one on ones, relationships, micro coaching right down to how to pack for a business trip. I have found that I’ve implemented many of their techniques – or perhaps I should say moved towards them – and have found some very quick results.
    I now pay for the premium subscription to gain access to their back podcasts.

    Thought you might be interested.

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