Top 10 lessons learned on the job.

Learning is a journey and no matter which university you attend, the learning opportunity “on the job” is unique for each of us. I am lucky enough to work with leaders who provided a great deal of learning opportunities directly and indirectly. The working experience may not have always been pleasant, but I learned anyway.

Many professionals asks the question “What would you do differently looking at the past?”. While I am not sure if I can answer that, I definitely know what I learned during my career. Here are my top 10 that I still remember and carry forward.

  1. Go to your boss with solutions: Personally, I would rate this advise as the best in my career. That was a time when I was not motivated do the job and I took only problems to my boss. After some time, my boss and I were frustrated and finally one day he advised, “Don’t come to your boss with problems; Always come with multiple viable solutions”.
  2. Always do your homework: Very often, we get caught up in the emotional arguments and decisions. When we follow through the decision making process, you always benefit when you did your homework way more than what others expected. Especially, when you are working with multiple stakeholders, everyone have a different view point and its important to present the case to everyone involved. Not doing homework leads to rush judgement and decisions and results in frustration and re-work.
  3. Build a community and not a hierarchy: Each employee, partner and customer that you interact with is very important in your life. Especially, technology world is so small that the relationships change pretty often. It is in the best long-term interest to build this community of people who back you up all the time and provide good support to grow. You do not want to just create hierarchies and manage people but you are really leading their lives, careers and aspirations. Be nice with EVERYONE.
  4. Know when to control and when not to: One size does not fit all. Every project and situation warrants a different kind of leadership. In the situation where you are transforming situations and projects, you need to have a better control of situation. When you need a lot of creative energy and design thinking, you need more of hands-off leadership style. Know what to do when.
  5. Don’t work for an asshole, never (except the first time): Life is too short and you want to make best use of your skill and talent. Work for the leaders who recognize your skill and acknowledges your hard work. While you can always earn money, some leaders just suck your energy and make you feel sad. Never, ever, work for such boss, except for that very first time, even if it means you have to move on.
  6. Make everyone in your team look good: Anything of significant can not be done alone. There is always a team of extraordinary people that make something work. Make everyone proud of working and credit appropriately. Especially, for the people in leadership positions, you are more judged by the influence you have on the team to do good work rather than your own ability to do work.
  7. Always do the right thing: There are always instances where you could take short-cuts to achieve something. However, short-cuts often has a hidden cost associated to it. Weigh in the costs of NOT doing the right thing and make sure people understand. Even if they don’t, do the right thing anyway. We don’t want Worldcom or Enron situation repeated.
  8. Always have a mentor: Having a mentor is the best investment in your career. Choosing one could be a lot time consuming but the effort is all worth it. You always need people with an independent view on your career and who always acts in your best interest. Usually problem with friends and family members is that they could be emotional and judgmental. A third person – mentor is not.
  9. Know “what” and “why” of your job: When I observe successful people, the only way that happened was to understand “what” and “why” of the job. This has a profound impact on your passion and how you do the job.
  10. Always network: It will always be an intellectual stimulation to meet professionals who are exceeding their potential. You always need to know how others are doing and you are doing comparatively. Networking helps you improve industry knowledge and do a “reality check”.

What’s your list? Leave a trace for others to learn and get educated.

<Cross posted from my LinkedIn post>

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