How does a penguin build its house? Igloos it together.
I’m Tim, a product marketing manager at an enterprise software company with an open source development model. I’ve been selected to participate in a 1 to 2 year leadership development program in the APAC region. A year passes both quickly and slowly; this show is a way to both share what I’m learning and see how far I’ve come.
I’d been meaning to record something of a capstone of this intermittent series about my experience in this program and I realized that my final presentation to leaders in the APAC region worked pretty well for that purpose. Thanks to everyone who supported me along the way, and best of luck as you navigate the unexpected timeline that is 2020.
Recap on year one
To set the stage for this year, I looked back at how I entered the second year of the program, and it really felt like the in year one I was pushed to grow through large changes all around me. Changes in Brisbane, changes in my role, team, and organization, and the acquisition. The program gave me a “north star” (become a stronger leader in APAC at Red Hat) and the support I needed to progress toward it.
Starting the year all akimbo
I felt great coming out the graduation, and almost right away there were some events that really rocked my confidence.
For one thing, there were some questions being asked about my focus, priorities and intentions; was I sure I wanted to grow in my current role? More specifically; while I could clearly make the connection between the skills I’d been developing and the work that I’d started doing through the ALEP program and my core role, that connection seemed harder to make for someone who hadn’t been a part of the journey and didn’t have the same context.
Additionally I received some feedback I couldn’t understand and I couldn’t really follow up; apparently I’d shown up in a way that was below my standards for myself, and that was actually opposite from both what I thought and some additional feedback I’d gotten. The discrepancy was confusing and upsetting.
Finally one of the outcomes I expected from the program was that I’d have some kind of “new path”; I’d have disrupted myself and be ready to move onto the next thing…but with my confidence shaken I was unsure as to my motivations; did I want to do something else or did I feel I had to?
Robot coach to intuitive coach
All of these things were factors that impacted my initial approach to formally coaching ALEP year 1 participants.
My coach encouraged me to lean in to my intuition and coaching style. He said that I could amplify my strengths if I paid attention to some of my weaknesses: I think and reason aloud which shows up as piggyback questions, I am uncomfortable with silence, and I am uncomfortable directly pushing back on people.
Following his advice I took more time to think questions and responses through in my head before asking them, which made my questions more concise and easier to understand. I practiced just shutting up, which opened up space for the coachee to fill in that silence. And I pushed back more confidently, which made coachees look more closely at some of their assumptions.
Support from a mentor
My mentor was generous with their time and experience. Probably the biggest insight I got from them was to really dig into my own priorities and what I wanted, and to consider whether “the next step” meant a big change in role, or scope, or team, or whether I could be the leader Red Hat needs me to be in my current team and role at the next level.
Coming back to the beginning of the story and the discord I was having within my team; my mentor also helped me see that in addition to context and communication issues; the ambiguity I was feeling about my direction probably was coming through in how I was delivering on my work. If I was trying to figure myself out, I likely wasn’t delivering as well as I wanted to be.
Exponential leadership and paying it forward
As a result of my participation in ALEP I got asked to contribute to the TTLA pilot program. I was able to combine my Y1 pay it forward project (the Online Influence Development Bootcamp I developed for people who were trying to get started engaging in social media – especially LinkedIn and Twitter), my expertise in content and marketing, and my growing coaching skills to support the development of technical leaders in APAC. That contribution was well enough received that I was humbled to be asked to run it for a new cohort of technical leaders in our region.
Embracing a unique perspective
What I’ve found is that my perspective and approach are unique and can balance others. In coaching that meant bring an intuitive and reflective approach to highly structured coachees. On my team that means combining my creativity and quick execution with the structure and attention to details from others. In interactions with others it means balancing my sense of self with awareness of what others need to feel valued and heard, and adapting accordingly.
That’s all for this season of The Tim Show. Check out season two if you want to learn more about some popular newsletters like how they come together and how they came to be.