20 lessons from 20 years: Part 3
In parts 1 and 2 of our "20 lessons from 20 years" series, I shared my top 5 lessons learned about self and clients respectively, and this third part, about PEOPLE, is near and dear to my heart. In our world of professional services, our biggest ASSET is our PEOPLE. If you’re like me, you chose consulting (1) to make a difference and solve problems and (2) to collaborate with intelligent and nimble souls. Humanizing technology is teaming up passionate people who use their values, intuition, and wisdom to listen, support, and implement solutions.
So, without further ado, here are my top lessons learned over the last 20 years regarding people:
Lesson 11: Be a team player.
Some of you know that I played soccer from kindergarten through college, and loved being center half, as well as sweeper. Those positions enabled me to watch the whole field, anticipate moves by the other team, coach from the field, close the gaps, play backup, and cover my teammates. I still lean on those capabilities in my work interactions and have immense respect for team players in our “adulting” world. I encourage everyone to understand group development and dynamics — forming, storming, norming, performing — especially as our consulting teams are always evolving with each engagement. Be a team player and lift up your colleagues.
Lesson 12: Live your values.
The values we bring to our teams start getting defined early in childhood and we embrace them through experiences and decisions. They inform our thoughts, words, and actions — and help us grow, prioritize, and develop. I recommend identifying your own personal values (like honesty, curiosity, loyalty), then understanding what some universal values can be (like peace, freedom, human dignity), as well as moral values (like respecting others, being trustworthy, showing gratitude). Then, take a look at our core company values, align with them, see what your client values are, align with those, and use all those values to signpost and guide your service to each other and to our clients. Focus on purpose and your mission, and leverage your values to get you there.
Lesson 13: Be fiercely protective of your people.
This one often makes me smile. A former colleague teased me years ago that he got the whole team those little rubber bracelets with WWAD on them after I moved to another client. The bracelets were a joke in themselves, because during the project the team said I needed the Wonder Woman bracelets to defend them from a difficult stakeholder. So you may be thinking that WWAD stood for Wonder W AD (anno domini), which it didn’t. My colleague responded that although it wasn’t related to a World War either, he knew that I would always fight for my people. He wanted to remind himself and the rest of the team that whenever times got tough or the client was difficult, to ask themselves, “What would Anisha do?” (WWAD). I was very touched, and it was a good reminder that being the “mama bear” to defend our teams and our values, and being the “mother hen” to gather and encourage the troops, is a valuable role within every group. Be loyal, be protective, and be true to your people.
Lesson 14: Build and nurture trust.
When someone loses my trust, it’s really tough to get it back. What does that mean? This is a personal value to me that I will fiercely protect and a strong component of teamwork. Let’s go down the path of applicable quotes related to trust and to being trustworthy, such as Ernest Hemingway stating, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them” and Lao Tzu sharing, “He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.” Part of teamwork is expressed by Booker T. Washington as “Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.” Then rounding us out, Stephen Covey wrote that, “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” Where would we be if you couldn't trust your team, your mentor, your coach, your leaders, or even yourself? Be trustworthy and trust others — embrace it as a value.
Lesson 15: Support always.
People … we are all humans supporting each other humanely, understanding strengths and weaknesses, and traveling on this road together. No company is made up of one person; it’s the sum of all our people, the diversity, the spirit, the culture, the tribe. This truly brings “team” full circle. “It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest, that holds human associations together” (H.L. Mencken). And what are we together if not supporting each other? I’ve found after all these years that when we, the people, support our teammates, apply our values, show our loyalty, and trust our colleagues, the whole team wins.
In part 4, coming on May 20, I'll share five of my biggest lessons learned about WORK. Stay tuned!
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Managing Director Anisha Weber has over 25 years of digital transformation experience in technology and consulting, leading tactical and strategic initiatives.