I sat down.
The elation of public speaking and the rush of adrenaline was fading, a feeling I knew all too well from experience. I had just finished delivering a 20 minute presentation covering the story and impact I’ve made over the past 2 years coupled with a 10 minute Q&A session. The audience consisted of my work peers and senior leadership, the decision makers. This was the final part of a lengthy process for a promotion and was a story I had spent most of the year writing. I knew where my towel was.
The presentation centered around the art and science of pathfinding. Put simply, I like doing new things in such a way that it makes it easier for others to adopt. A first follower, if you will. At each time increment, I highlight what I saw, what I wanted, and what I did. Stimulus, response. Stimulus, response. Small, iterative movements that kept me moving towards that intersection of needs. The whole deep work thing has been spent on me trying out experiments to improve myself. And by proxy, those around me.
Below are are few key learnings from the presentation that I wanted to share.
Team leadership skills are the true Kingmaker.
I have made this skill the absolute number one priority no matter how much pain or sacrifice is required. I have found that the ability to quickly and efficiently form and norm a team is quintessential to career growth and highly valued by everyone. Crappy leadership will almost certainly mean crappy team morale. Great leadership unlocks a lot of great and talented people to do some crazy cool shit.
I have placed myself in situations where I am accountable to hundreds of individuals across diverse programs. By wisely choosing an inner circle of trusted advisors, being vulnerable about my challenges, and listening to their ideas, I successfully navigated choppy waters on numerous occasions. Plus, I find this work extremely rewarding. I have always wanted to be good at this and feel like I never have been. 🙂
Know what optimal velocity looks and feels like.
Take the time to figure things out in the beginning. Spend time on the human part, the part where you have to form a team and get them working together. It’s only when we take a moment to realize that we’re all people, we all need grace, and recognition, and support, that we create a space to reach optimal velocity.
That feeling is ridiculously addictive. You will fight to find it, create it, feel it, and protect it. And you will pass that culture along to others. A team that is able to move at optimal velocity is a happy team. A happy team is able to move at optimal velocity.
It’s all about loops.
Never design in straight lines. Don’t think about what’s directly in front of you. Think about how to build a loop. If you make something, how does it come back to you for feedback? If you create a process, how does the loop get closed on an item? If you create a process to onboard, have you created the process to offboard? Loops are modular, simple, scalable, and generally interoperable.
Read the damn company emails.
Slalom sends me a ton of email on a variety of topics. I read them all. I prioritize understanding what the company is trying to do, where we have invested, what we have built, and how it is all supposed to work together. This is how I plant intentions into my roadmap – by knowing what the greater organization is trying to do!
HARDLY ANYONE READS THE EMAILS. This is an easy way to get ahead. Trust me, it’s like sunscreen. For me, it’s how I found out about a great global program that I ended up joining (shout out to Delivery Excellence), courses I wanted to take, new tools to learn, and tons of people that I pinged for a virtual coffee or a high five.
Watch what your leaders are doing.
Pay close attention to what your leaders are doing, what they worry about, and what messaging they put out. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. This is another way I plant intentions into my roadmap – by knowing what my leaders are trying to do!
I take it a step further and offer ideas and feedback from time to time. I want my leaders to know that I am aligned and want to be part of the solution. If I am not aligned, they know that I will bring it up without being asked. This puts their mind at ease; I’m not a wildcard.
Build a roadmap of intentions.
Combine your intentions + company intentions + leader intentions. That’s the formula for “is this thing important.” Eyeball all the various things you could be spending your time on doing and stack rank them based on these three criteria. Boom. 💥
Go, do the thing, make it better. Tell people about what you did and invite them to join you. Make it bigger! Scale. Repeat. (See, that’s a loop, too!)
I hope this little list of items sparks a bit of thought and challenges you in a positive way.
✌ Peace and love