Career superpowers followed by crucial conversation skills, The Agile Development Conference East is off to a great start! I decided to go with two leadership half-day tutorials: Career Superpowers, presented by James Whittaker, and It’s All About Me (TM): Owning Your Behaviour, Improving Your Team, presented by Doc List. Taking both of these tutorials on the same day turned out to be a powerful combination.
In an exceptionally candid manner, James Whittaker discussed the eight superpowers that have propelled him through his own career:
- Ambition is the root of success. You increase your chances of climbing high by aiming high. Be purposeful and believe in yourself.
- Passion is powerful, self-inflicted mind control, making you work harder, be more focused and spread that to others. Make sure it’s your own.
- Specialization gives you an identity, focuses your effort, allows for complete mastery, and opens doors closed to others. Make yourself known for something that matters.
- Storytelling. What good is a specialty if you are the only one excited about it? If you can’t explain it, it doesn’t exist. If you can’t make it exciting, it isn’t exciting.
- Imitation lends you the powers and charisma of the people you learn from and leads to mastery of new skills.
- Derivation, not innovation, is behind the success of the largest tech companies in America. Stone wheels need re-invention. The point is not to be innovative. The point is to be useful.
- Creativity. There is no recipe, only ingredients. Develop expertise, do creative rituals, find distractions and what centres you to feed your creativity.
- Leadership. Helping others find their own superpowers becomes your very own gravity well.
He concluded the presentation by encouraging us to be interesting by being genuine, hanging out with interesting people and telling our stories, if they entertain. This prompted a bit of a discussion about how far we can be genuine at work, with one woman remarking that being herself wasn’t getting the results she wanted. Whittaker suggested testing the waters with your audience and if one approach fails to consider trying other approaches.
This turned out to be a fortuitous thought to lead into Doc List’s session, which tackled the complex subject of how we communicate with each other. The crucial concept is: It’s All About Me (TM). It’s important to realize that what I (or anyone else) say and do is not about you, it’s about me. Once we understand this, we then realize that so many of our communications are muddied with interpretations, assumptions and projections of our own beliefs and feelings.
We learned how to STATE our path:
- Share your facts
- Tell your story
- Ask for others’ paths
- Talk tentatively
- Encourage testing
This, paired with “power listening” skills where we Ask, Mirror, Paraphrase and Prime, help us build a culture of trust where our teams can put forward their ideas and harness the full range of talent. Doc List drew on a few books that are now going on my reading list: Crucial Conversations, The No Asshole Rule, and Superteams.
Armed with career superpowers and a more psychological view on communication, I have a lot to think about as I write my own story and help my team write theirs.
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