The Baby Robins and the Engineering Director

A tale of hatching, growth and learning

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The robin babies – click to enlarge

Where did he go?  The engineering team just hired a new director and we in the product management group had high hopes.

There were a couple of snafu’s in our offering that needed a guiding hand so that we could feel good about presenting new products to our sales force and customers.  But Bruce was nowhere to be seen.  We assumed he was behind the closed door to his office.

Then voila! Like the magical baby robins that just appeared one day from the  blue eggs in the nest outside my kitchen window, Bruce reappeared. And like the baby robins he had grown up quickly.  In the two weeks behind his closed door he had learned a LOT about our system and what needed to be done to create products we were proud to deliver.  Bruce emerged with a well hatched strategy and communicated it widely. Then he and his team creating a plan from the strategy, and delivered on that.  It felt like a miracle–even a couple of decades later in my recollection.

I learned a lot from Bruce’s actions:

  • Making time to really understand the situation and craft a meaningful strategy is worthwhile, even worth disappearing for a couple of weeks when new to an organization.
  • The importance of communicating. If Bruce had told us about his process beforehand he would not have lost points while we wondered what the heck was going on.
  • Before then, when I was new to a company I felt the need to shine quickly–do something to prove them right in hiring me.  After that I was more relaxed and gave myself time to come up to speed.

KC_OverTheHump_Masthead 230x200Now that I know more about what makes a good leader, I also recognize good leadership traits in Bruce’s process.  I am sure he communicated with his team behind that closed door to learn about the current status, plus what had been tried, and not tried, to fix the issues.  I think that’s a trait of a good leader to work with her/his team to get organized before sharing with the rest of the organization, even against pressure to do so sooner rather than later.

Which leads to the second great trait of a leader that Bruce exemplified–grace under pressure.  Nuf said.

What about you? When have you done something that came to you instinctively and turned out to be good for the organization?  Have you seen this in others?  Please share to help us all to learn and grow!

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P.S. Happy Birthday Mom!  May your day, and your year, be as wonderful as you are!

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