My boss asked me to define what my new role should be and work towards realising it. I got flabbergasted. I always thought someone will define the role and competencies for the role and I would get into it by proving my worth. I do know bits & pieces of what I like to do. But I don't have a strong conviction in any one piece. How do I even define my role? What if I am wrong? How do I become confident? ~ Senior professional, Tech
Human beings have been conditioned into structure and order through the educational system.
That's something we can infer by observing children and their transition to adults.
Children ( who are not yet in school) don't look at user manuals to play.
They just figure it out as they go or they copy others who are doing things they like.
There is no one way to play.
There is no right way to play.
There is only 'play'.
When they are sent to school, all sorts of order & discipline come into force.
And many schools insist on "one" kind of order basically killing possibility thinking.
So the seeds of expectations are sown when they are very young that someone will define what they should be doing, what order looks like and when & how they need to follow. Its also learnt by burning fingers - when they define what they need to do, its frowned upon by adults.
This continues till one passes out of the system. When one joins work, this continues further for a few years as a learner, contributor, manager, leader.
Then there is a transition zone in mid-management where the onus of agency shifts.
Suddenly senior leaders are asked to define what they have to do, the rules they will play by and the measures of success. When that happens, its normal to feel a sense of despondency as what one knows as true has changed.
What will make the shift easier?
Notice & prepare for the transition before the nature of work shifts from "execute" to "strategise" :
On some occasions, greatness may be thrust upon you, for the rest it pays to be prepared.
Look at your current role and the next two in terms of what you will be doing when you get there and prepare yourself for strategic thinking.
2. Big bets
Identify at least 2-3 big bets that would make your work life enriching. Let them be a stretch goal not impossible ones. Use your intelligence, analytical ability and all that you have got to identify them, share & discuss them.
Collaborate with like minded people to shape them into convictions.
Be open to try & fail (learn).
3.. Know thyself
Without knowing whats important to you: your core values, your life measures, your role models, your beliefs, your passion it will be very difficult for you to form a conviction on anything you come up with.
So introspect, reflect and get to know with clarity who you are and what matters to you. We all love selfies - pls have one about who you are too!
Clarity begets clarity.
Once you form & refine your "what", communicate it in ways that are simple & easy to understand.
When you speak / write about what is in your head - you will see conviction shaping and continuously being refined by the input and feedback of others.
Do it more and often with people who will encourage you and with people who may play devil's advocate.
What can you do today to make you a more confident leader who embodies conviction?