A Career Growth Opportunity Hidden In Plain Sight.
Hey Friends 👋
Welcome to The New Year 2024.
As we step into this bright new year, I want to share a little story with you – an incident from just last month that inspired a reflection and, ultimately, the concept that I am highlighting in this post.
In November last year (🤯 it’s 2024 already), during a routine project meeting, something unusual happened. The team I was working with faced a sudden “technical hiccup” that brought all of our discussion to a complete halt.
It wasn't a big issue, but oddly, no one stepped up to resolve it. This moment of “inaction” led me to think about a common phenomenon in organizations worldwide.
Something that I call the "Leadership Glitch."
What is a Leadership Glitch?
Imagine that you're in a busy office where the printer suddenly stops working. Everyone notices and complains, but no one steps forward to fix it or call for maintenance.
Now you might come to me and say,
“Vibhor, what’s the big deal? Printers break all the time.”
And you’re right!
However, that's not what I want you to focus on.
What I want you to pay attention to is what happened next:
"Everyone noticed and complained, but no one stepped forward."
Why did no one step forward?
Simply because “fixing printers” was not part of anyone's job description.
So, no one takes the initiative!
The problem may seem small, but it disrupts the work of many people.
Everyone expects someone else to take action.
This scenario, while seemingly trivial, is a perfect illustration of the "Leadership Glitch."
The situations where there's a clear problem that affects many, yet there's a “collective inaction.”
This often leads to a cycle where issues are consistently acknowledged but not effectively addressed, causing frustration and inefficiency within teams and organizations.
In many work environments, especially those that adopt Agile, various glitches and issues have become more apparent.
“Agility takes no problematic situation as prisoners.”
These problematic situations were not just confined to individual teams but often spanned across various functions, affecting multiple departments and processes. The ripple effect of these glitches was a significant barrier to productivity and innovation.
Initially, only a handful of insightful individuals noticed these pervasive glitches. However, as the awareness about cross-functional and process-related issues grew, it became evident that traditional roles were not equipped to handle them effectively.
This realization led to the evolution of the Scrum Master and Product Owner roles, which were specifically designed to address and mitigate these widespread Leadership Glitches.
Glitches addressed by the Scrum Master role:
Inconsistent Agile Adoption
Glitches addressed by the Product Owner role:
Unclear Product Vision
Misaligned Product Features
Ineffective Backlog Prioritization
Business to Team Missing Link
Neglected Customer Feedback
Overlooked Business Value
Insufficient Stakeholder Communication
Inadequate Release Planning
Feature Creep Management
The creation of these two roles has shown that these so-called "Glitches" offer unique opportunities. These are moments where you can showcase your initiative and leadership skills.
You step up when everyone else steps back.
The Golden Opportunity
Take me for example.
I’ve made an entire career out of “addressing” these “Glitches,” and I think you should too.
Have a look at your company’s organizational chart.
In most companies, we see charts with boxes that show different hierarchies with roles stacked one over the other.
Many people want to move up to the box above them.
But that wasn’t the case for me.
I looked at the empty spaces “between” these boxes.
These spaces are where no one is in charge. You don’t need anyone’s permission. But these are the spaces where problems “often” happen.
Problems in business are not always just about one area, like marketing or engineering. If you try to do the job of the Engineering VP or Director or AVP, people (the VP, Director or AVP) might not like it.
But if you help solve a problem that hurts the engineering area but isn't just about engineering, usually no one minds.
To grow in your career and not upset those in charge, you should find and fix these gaps. These gaps represent Leadership Glitches.
Most roles in company charts handle the usual 80% of problems. So, focus on the other 20% - the hard stuff that no one likes but everyone wants to be done.
These are not always the big, exciting projects. They are often the less noticed, practical tasks. Common tasks that, due to “inaction,” often seem like “impediments.”
Solving (or initiating to solve) these problems/impediments gets you noticed.
When you show you can solve problems, people give you more work. This is how you move up in your company – by dealing with the tough tasks that others don't want to do.
Scrum Master and Product Owner roles are full of such tasks.
Use the 7 steps below to effectively leverage these growth opportunities.
7 steps to leverage Leadership Glitches.
1. Identify the Glitch:
The first step is to become an expert at noticing these glitches.
These glitches often manifest as:
processes that consistently generate frustration, or
areas where there is a clear lack of coordination.
For example, perhaps there's an ongoing issue with the way meetings are run, leading to unproductive hours. Or maybe there’s a stakeholder whose needs are consistently misunderstood or mishandled due to inadequate internal communication.
2. Understand the Impact:
Before jumping in, assess the impact.
Not every glitch requires your intervention. Focus on those that significantly affect team morale, productivity, or stakeholder satisfaction.
How does this issue affect our work?
What could be the potential benefits of resolving it?
3. Get things Moving:
Once you've identified a glitch worth attacking, the next step is to take initiative. This doesn’t necessarily mean solving the problem single-handedly.
It could be as simple as:
bringing the issue to the forefront in a meeting,
proposing a potential solution, or
coordinating with others to address it.
4. Collaborate and Communicate:
Leadership isn’t just about taking charge; it’s also about collaboration.
Engage with your team, seek their input, and work together to find a solution. Effective communication is key here – you need to articulate the problem clearly and rally support to address it.
5. Brainstorm a “Simple” Solution:
If it’s not “simple,” it’s not the right solution.
You will need creative thinking, especially if the glitch spans across different departments or areas of expertise.
It might involve:
setting up a new process,
redefining roles, or
simply creating a better line of communication.
6. Reflect to Learn:
After addressing the glitch, take time to reflect on what you’ve learned from the experience. What worked well? What could have been done differently? This reflection is important for your personal and professional growth.
7. Making it a Habit:
Finally, make this approach a habit. The more you practice identifying and addressing Leadership Glitches, the more skilled you’ll become at it. This habit will not only improve your work environment but also highlight you as a natural leader and problem-solver.
If you want to move forward in your career, it's good to learn from others who have faced similar challenges.
Finding and fixing these “Leadership Glitches” is just one way.
There are countless tips, strategies, and nuggets of wisdom that can help you make small adjustments to the way you work that can have a significant impact on your career.
And I intend to share them all in the year to come.
Quote of the Week
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”
by Bernard M. Baruch
🙏 Thank You!
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Here, I try to give you Career, Progress, and Self-Development insights as I learn them myself.
Wish you a successful career journey ahead.
Until next week 👋
“I share things I wish I knew in the starting years of my career in the corporate world."