10 Things I Learnt from my Bosses

More often than not, one gets an opportunity to work with leaders rather than managers who inspire you and mould you to grow your potential.

I firmly believe that in this day and age it is never about the years of experience on your resume that matters, but your potential and personal learnings. We may be richer for our experiences which cannot be quantified in time. We are also rapidly moving towards a work culture which focuses more on ideas, individual potential and contribution to organizational growth rather than hierarchy or years of experience.

Although I have learnt much more from my bosses over a period of time than what this post offers, the ten things below have been key to my career so far:

 1. Ask questions

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”- I live by this mantra of Steve Jobs. Curiousity is a good thing. Ask the client questions. Never go by the business brief of what they want you to do. Asking questions will enable you to get an understanding of the actual business challenges which will drive you towards a better solution than the one the client expects you to deliver.

2. Do your homework

Preparation is the key to minimize failure. Read about the industry, read about the competitors, read about the technology tools, read about what people are doing. Be prepared. It makes you feel smart and confident.

3. Speak your mind

Have ideas, have opinions, bring in your perspective. You could be wrong but you could also be right. Take that chance and be a little fearless.

4. It is okay to not have all the answers

One does not have to be a know-it-all. We are not Google. Everyone has a perspective to things that comes from their collective experiences over a period of time. More often than not, you may meet a client who asks you questions you may not know answers to. It is important to look at these moments as opportunities to actually learn something new rather than fret about not knowing things. On the same note, it is okay to admit that you don’t know.

5. Be a team player

Almost every HR book talks about this but to get everyone to work together is easier said than done. No matter how much we think of ourselves as an all-rounder genius, we cannot work alone in an organization. We need to constantly collaborate, work with our peers, seniors and juniors to grow and succeed. Get everyone to believe in what they do and get them on your side. Be their cheerleader and inspire them to do better.

6. Have constructive meetings

We waste such a huge chunk of our working time on meetings which go on and on. Endless presentations about figures and trends and analysis do not make optimum use of anyone’s time. What is the best way forward? Email the presentation. Use the meeting to discuss, brainstorm and arrive at a consensus on the ideas. Keep meetings short and action oriented.

7. Be a partner, not a subordinate

Whatever your role in a company, you are not a furniture. You are there to add value to your organization and to your clients. Think about what you do and find ways to do it better. Be it reports, presentations or even stapling a few papers – be more than efficient, be intelligent. Once you realize your job is not just to do as you are told but to contribute, you feel the ownership that can inspire you to do better.

8. Be a smart perfectionist

Always put your best foot forward. Timelines are important. But, one should rather take two days additional to present something relevant and substantial rather than dwell in mediocre work in the name of deadlines.

9. Ruthless prioritization

Not everything needs to be done NOW. Learn to pick and choose tasks based on the importance of the project, visibility, stakeholders involved, level of urgency and deadlines. It will help keep your work life organized and give you much needed larger perspective on things.

10. Have an open mind

Don’t judge. Don’t bring in your prejudice and pre-conceived notions. Listen to other people. Understand their perspectives. Learn from their experiences. If you keep your mind open, you can learn so much more. Embrace the contradictions and enjoy the rich diversity. Your experiences will be richer for it.

I have been very fortunate to have been inspired by leaders in my career – both from organizations I have worked in and the ones in the industry I look upto. Working with my bosses and seniors have enabled me to expand my thinking and have added to my work experiences much beyond the number of years that you see on my resume. I’m grateful to them all for mentoring me. 

Have amazing bosses who inspire you? Let me know through comments about your experiences. 

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