Don’t Hide Behind Titles And Names. Show Yourself!

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At ROKC ™, we focus on strategic leadership as it applies to the business as well as to the business’s leadership. We work primarily with C-level executives and above, but for the rare and extraordinary candidate we will make an exception. After all, they are the “real deal”.

Recently, while working with one of our clients we came upon a very hard nut to crack. Although an excellent professional, the client could not help looking at his world from the outside in. Almost every sentence uttered, or written, involved the name of a position, a company, a software product, a hardware product, a technique,… You get the idea. They had mastered them all. However, in applying the ROKC Method, we don’t place the emphasis on how fulfilling – literally, in the sense of filling you up – all these tools make you feel. We seek to reveal the opposite; what the user brings to the tool in providing their product to the customer.

In order to help our client turn things around, we gave him an exercise to do with his resume. Review each professional experience, explain what he brought to the job, and what the team and customer were grateful for receiving in his contribution. Suffice it to say, this caused our very accomplished and up-coming leader a great deal of frustration. Nonetheless, he persists in this endeavor as I write.

A few days ago, we enjoyed an email exchange which he found “… [a] just marvelous summary and reflection on what [he had written] with a very formulated response which seemingly came out effortlessly,…” Given the value our client found in our words, we decided to share our thoughts and considerations with the larger audience in the hopes that you too can benefit from the ROKC Method as it applies to personal leadership.

Thank you for sharing your frustration with me.

I know this is a difficult assignment but unfortunately it is a mandatory passage. Let me see if I can communicate what I see in your writings below as a way to help you see and then change direction.

Just about everything you write … is from the outside toward you. It is an expression of what fills you up. Well it fills your mind in any case. What I am looking for you to understand is how you fill up the world around you. You are close but you have to flip your perspective around.

For example, [you write] : ‘I reading newer technologies. Putting them together as a solution. Ability to play around with it’

Everyone can read about a new technology but everyone will come away with a slightly different understanding. Consequently, each person will use the information they acquired in a different way. How do you see what you read and how do you use it in the world.

Another example: “today my fascination is with Open Source Technologies”

Are you building these open source systems? Not to my knowledge but may be you are. A person who adds to the open source system by writing lines of code, debugging other programmer’s work, and adding the work to the system library is very different from the person who simply uses the system. I use drupal and wordpress but don’t understand how to code – although I can read it – so everything I do is limited to using modules and plugins built by others. I can build a simple website using these open source platforms much more easily than I ever could when I used ASP.NET. Many frustrating moments back then. I have even tried my hand at Ruby On Rails, JavaScript, JQuery and Java without much success because I just don’t have the ability to start from nothing. Nonetheless, I have wonderful ideas I would like to see out in the world and have put them out there only to see them take flight and then fail. What do you do with open source? How do you use it? What do you bring to the tech? Does it meet with limited success and then fail?

Last example, …: ” I was fascinated with new business models and how things like Porter’s 5 force analysis worked and how it went to compliment Gary Hamels theories on competitive advantage”

Ok, you were filled up by these ideas. That’s fine. How did you understand them? What did you do with them? Did you contribute to them? Improve them? Use them for the benefit of someone else? Did they value your use of their application?

In summary, all these people (Porter, Hamels, Open Stack, journalists, editors, programmers,…) provided you with their riches and this touched you in some way (piqued your curiosity, inspired you,…) that brought you a perceived sense of value. What did you do in return? For them or anyone else? Was your contribution appreciated and valued? Why?

I will tell you how I define business: A business exists when the organization has an asset, they own and/or control, that can be used in a product or service that provides their customer with a competitive advantage, that is, reduces the customer’s uncertainty in life. A business survives only if it is able to implement the processes and manage the risks inherent in their activity such that the difference between the customer’s level of uncertainty and the business’s level of certainty sufficiently important to generate value for both so they can continue to exist in the future. The asset I am referring to, is the Key Component.

What is your key component, …? It is in you so you own and control it but how does it reduce uncertainty for your community? The jobs you have had, like those you will have, are simply the processes you employed at that time to make your key component available to others. You got paid so you could provide for your family and save for the future; it reduced your uncertainty of present of future existence. Each job as given you another opportunity to use your key component. Every future job will too. But if you focus on the job you risk missing the real value which is what you bring to the job. Jobs come and go, technologies come and go, but you stay. You can’t allow your happiness or existence to be determined by the currents of time because that would mean you have no influence over your life; that’s called “free will” by the way. In good times and bad, you have to be you and adapt to changing situations. You can’t change who you are, so you adapt. Technology changes. Jobs change. We don’t change, we adapt who we are. This is why I keep asking you to stop looking at the jobs, companies, and technologies, and to focus on you. Focus on “what you bring to the party”.

I hope this helps.”

And, we hope this also helps our readers with their own personal leadership challenges. If you want to reach out to us with your challenges, we will address them as needed.


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