Developer: The Dinosaur



Last September, I celebrated my 20th anniversary with my organization.  In the blink of an eye, I went from being one of the younger managers in the conference room to now being one of the oldest.  As time has progressed, my company has grown significantly and has become more sophisticated.  To effectively manage this growth, we have recruited amazing talent in targeted fields.  Digital & Experience Transformation, Strategic Business Intelligence & Integration and Media Analytics are just three departments within my division that I could not even have dreamed of back in 1997.

I have grown and developed myself during my 20+ year journey.  One great way to see how far you have come is to dig up an old strategic plan Power Point you might have done at the "turn of the century".  Not only do the tactics seem old-school, the document is filled with something we called "clip-art"; typically black & white stick figurines posing in different positions.

Even with my own growth and development, by 2015, I recall feeling like a bit of a dinosaur.  Who wouldn't after meeting the new Data Scientist who just moved in next door.  I did not think that my skills were as complex, and thus, did not think they were as valuable.  Then, something happened that would change that forever.

As an investment in our leadership team, my company started offering workshops in The Leadership Challenge.  This program, based on the best-selling book (now in it's 6th edition) teaches leaders about five practices of exemplary leadership and how to enable others around us to do extraordinary things.  As a lead-up to the course, everyone had to have a Leadership Practices Inventory completed - think 360 - based on the qualities of leadership that your team and peers have seen you demonstrate.

Sitting at my table with Data Analytics and Integrated Marketing professionals, we inevitably shared our results with each other.  At the risk of sounding braggadocious, my scores were pretty good.  As the class progressed, it affirmed many of the leadership practices that I had already been practicing and inspired me to be an even more effective leader.  My big "ah-ha" was that leadership skills are as complex - if not more complex - than data science.  Dinosaur no more.

Aligning the lessons learned from The Leadership Challenge with StrengthsFinder has enabled me to focus on the importance of developing and enabling others to be their best.  People with the signature talent theme Developer, are naturally wired with the potential to become great leaders.  They instinctively recognize and cultivate the potential in others and derive satisfaction from enabling others to act.

Jack Welch is quoted as saying "when you become a leader, success is all about growing others".  Developers rarely see anyone as fully formed.  Everyone is a work in progress and alive with possibilities.

If Developer is one of your top 5 signature talent themes, here are some ways to feed yourself by helping others;

* Volunteer to become a mentor or trainer for new hires entering your department

* When you identify your direct reports or colleagues demonstrating growth and progress in their jobs, share your observations with them to reinforce these behaviors

* Partner with someone who has the Signature Talent Theme of Individualization; this person can help you understand each individual's natural abilities and then you can step in and aim your talents to accelerate growth and development



Dan is currently serving 20 years to life as the Sr. Director of Destination Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort.  He prefers white-water rapids over data lakes and lists Ideation, Futuristic and Positivity amongst his signature talents.    Find him on Twitter @dpddonovan 


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