I’m a Technical Program Manager. At least, that’s what you’ll find on my business card, but it’s not what I enjoy most. I enjoy coaching. I enjoy helping people find the answers inside themselves instead of offering up my own solutions. After all, my teams are the ones in the trenches. They have the best information to decide what to do next so why wouldn’t their solutions be better than my own? Unfortunately, I spend the bulk of my time as a TPM and only a small portion as a coach.
I posed this dilemma to John Culter over lunch last week, and he offered some excellent advice. Stop talking about coaching. Forget about explaining what problems you might be able to solve in the role. Instead, start more simply:
Start with your beliefs.
See where your beliefs and those of your leaders align and then decide what to do next. To that end, here’s several that fit my context. A few might resonate with your situation:
- I believe that we overindex on solving today’s problems while spending too little creating a better tomorrow. In time, I believe this debt must be paid with interest.
- I believe our brilliant minds underestimate the value of simplicity.
- I believe tools will only be adopted if the people responsible for entering the data gain value from the data entered.
- I believe making continuous, small tweaks is the optimal course of action to solving any problem regardless of its size.
- I believe that leaders often have the most positive impact when they help build systems where the actions of a few powerful and magnificently skilled people matter least. (Attribution.)
- I believe sustainable change occurs when we invite and collaborate, and, while these endeavors yield a higher chance of success with a greater impact, they also are more costly and take time.
- I believe our teams want higher collaboration and more effective teaming but remain unaware how to achieve these ambitions likely because they’ve never belonged to an effective team.
- I believe our altruistic goal of growing our people has created a culture where teamwork is disincentivized.
- I believe we do too many things at once, and we’re unsure how to say no in straight forward, meaningful, respectful ways.
- I believe that innumerable dependencies exist between many of our teams. This slows progress, instigates unpredictability, and creates a necessity for big batch thinking. Worst yet, I believe people feel all these dependencies are necessary.
- I believe we often mistake efficiency for effectiveness.
- I believe one of my responsibilities is to teach people what I know so they can operate effectively in my absence. If my team needs me, then I’ve failed them as a leader.
Thanks for great idea to start with my beliefs, John. And one last thing before I go. We all have our challenges, shortcomings, and frustrations. What’s nice about our small community is that we’re all in this together. Never be afraid to reach out to me or anyone else. You’ll be surprised how much help we’ll offer. We’ll talk again soon.
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