Browsing the archives for the Broader role category.

Stan the Interior Designer

Broader role, Geek 5
We’ve been talking about how to decide whether or not you want to take on a broader role at work and how career assessments can help. If you want a solid career assessment instead of one of the plethora of free assessments, you can try the Strong Interest Inventory. The Strong has been around for a long time and is well-proven.
The Strong Interest Inventory compares your interests and preferences to other people of the same gender who are in specific careers to help guide you to potential career matches. The assessment breaks down results into six general occupational themes: Artistic, Investigative, Social, Enterprising, Conventional, and Realistic.
Artistic is about creative arts, social is about taking care of people, enterprising is about sales, and realistic is about hands on work. The two categories that are mostly likely to be the primary themes for geeks are Investigative and Conventional. Investigative covers science, medicine, math and research. Conventional covers data management, accounting and computers/ information systems.
The assessment matches you to primary and secondary themes to link you to careers. You always gotta remember though that these are directional possibilities and not absolutes. Sometimes the caeer suggestions also need to be interpreted in context. We run career development workshops in my company and sometimes run in to this issue. For example, if the profession of Interior Designer is recommended to Stan, we don’t send him off to compete on America’s Top Designer. Instead we help Stan figure out how he can translate that recommendation into a career in our company. Interior Designer is an Enterprising theme. That is similar to Marketing Manager and Purchasing agent – we do have those professions in our company, so we might steer Stan there.
Another great feature of the Strong is that it gives you some personal style scales. Most importantly here, it measures your leadership style and how comfortable you are leading people. Leadership is about behaviors and you can learn behaviors. But if you are clearly uncomfortable managing others, then that could decide your career path.

If you get the Interpretive Report along with the basic profile, it walks you through a series of questions and action steps that can help you think things through. It also points you to resources like ONET that can help you research careers.

The Strong assessment is generally administered by a trained professional. Someone in your company’s HR department might offer it. It is owned by CPP and you can find more information on their site. CPP does offer a self-scorable option that anyone can purchase for $8.25.

Disclosure: I use the Strong Inventory in my work, but I do not have any connection beyond that.

Hopefully this series of posts have given you some resources for figuring out your career direction. Good luck!






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To Play or Not to Play

Broader role, Geek 5
So what if you are not sure whether or not you want to play the corporate game? What if you are interested but also resistant to a broader role?  How do you decide?
Some geeks already know they don’t want to play.  It is always great to meet people who have found the right career and are content with their work and pay and advancement.  Those lucky geeks have found their bliss.  They can be doctors who just want to practice medicine and programmers who just want to write code.

Maybe you are already following your passion. If you cringe at the idea of going into management or fighting for career advancement, then you probably are not going be happy playing the game. In that case, think about what you love to do and pursue that – assuming you can make a living at it.

But what if you are not sure?  Maybe you like your work, but you feel stuck or you want more recognition, responsibility or a higher salary.  Maybe you feel like you ought to pursue a broader role in order to recession-proof your job.  But you aren’t sure if the trade-offs are worth it.

If you are not sure what you want, there are some great tools available to help you think it through. There is a whole industry built around career assessments and advice. These are not necessarily deep psychological assessments or research-based resources. These are generally common sense guides that help you think through options based on your own interests and skills. Don’t get too caught up in the specifics, instead focus on the themes for you and your preferences and the process of thinking through your options.

One old stand-by career assessment is the Strong Interest Inventory. It profiles you and matches you to careers based on your interests.  In the next post, we’ll talk about some of the components of the Strong Interest Inventory and how you can take one.

 As a psychologist, I have a preference for the proven assessments, like the Strong.  However, there are a lot of other free and easy to access options.  Search for “free career assessment” on Google and you get 7,540,000 hits. 

One example of a free career assessments site is which is a subsidiary of Career Builder.  That site offers several free assessments after you provide your email address. has a Career Planner Report, a Career Planner Quiz, Job Discovery Wizard and a Job Satisfaction Quiz.  I can’t vouch for the science behind this type of free assessment, but this is one of the rare circumstances in which the science of the assessment is not as important as the process.

Assessments should help you think about yourself and your career in different ways.  They are directional and provide guidance but not answers.   Hopefully you’ll get some insight into yourself. You can turn that insight into action and make some well-informed career decisions.

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I don’t wanna do it!

Broader role, Geek 5
What if I don’t want to play?  Specifically, what if I don’t want to play the corporate game to further my career?  This is a common dilemma for many geeks which is why it is one of the Geek 5 – Resistance to a Broader Role.
Some geeks are content with their role of being a technical expert and don’t want or ask for more. These folks frequently want to be left alone to develop or create or experiment or to do whatever magic they do. They are focused on the work and not on their career. That is a perfect choice for some – but it has its pros and cons. If you choose the pure technical route, you’ll probably be giving up career opportunities and promotions and higher pay.

In his book,” What Got You Here Won’t Get You There“, Marshall Goldsmith gave an example of someone who got the technical role and prestige. It started as a coaching assignment for Goldsmith who was asked to work with the company’s technical guru and get him to play better with others and spread his knowledge. But after five minutes with him, Goldsmith recognized that the software wizard was basically antisocial and only wanted to be left alone in a room and computer and high-end audio system. He was very valuable to the company. It was in everyone’s best interest to leave him to his work and continue to reward him well for it.

Most of us aren’t in such a protected position. We’re all vulnerable to layoffs and competition and workplace politics. If you don’t want to play the corporate game, you should find a technical company to work for that offers a technical career path. Otherwise the development tips in this blog should help you crack the code on career advancement. 

Next post, we’ll talk about some assessments that can help you sort out your career preferences and skills.



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Doctors getting MBAs

Broader role, Geek 5, Leadership, Managing people

Jane Porter at the Wall Street Journalwrote an interesting article about doctors getting MBAs.  Most doctors fall into our definition of a geek.  They certainly have the deep technical expertise.  Most of them have also focused on their specialty instead of general management skills – hence the later need for an MBA.  Not all of them would self-identify as a geek, but if it looks like a geek and smells like a geek…

The article, Doctors Seek Aid from Business Schools, touches on many of the issues covered by the Geek 5.  The article covers the need for basic management skills,  leadership skills and financial/ business acumen.  She cited a statistic that the University of Pennsylvania health system now spends $1 million on leadership training. 

This is a great example of geeks gone pro.  The doctors rise in their careers due to the technical stuff.  But at a certain point, the professional skills become just as important and help determine career advancement and success.  If they can do it, so can you!

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Resistance to a Broader Role

Broader role, Geek 5

In the last post, we discussed how introversion could affect leadership. Introverts sometimes resist moving into broader roles or taking leadership positions. Resistance to a broader role is one of the Geek 5. There are some other geek tendencies that can also get in the way of career advancement.

It is hard to move from a technical role into a broader role.  It is hard to give up the very skillset that has made you successful.  Over your career, you’ve probably been rewarded for technical accomplishments.  You’ve gotten recognition, kudos and monetary rewards.  It is also familiar, and you are almost guaranteed ongoing success.   It’s hard to move from that comfort zone to a stretch role – such as a leadership position.

Another common point of resistance is not wanting to give up the technical work itself. Moving up the ladder frequently means taking on more management duties and doing less of the technical work. Most geeks are in their line of work, because they are fascinated with the technical details of what they do. They often see the technical work (programming, R&D, analytics, medicine, etc.) as a pure scientific pursuit. Management work, on the other hand, is regarded as bureacratic nonsense.

This is a self-limiting and, frankly, disrespectful attitude.  Management is a tough role.  The challenge is less of a technical nature and more of a people and strategic nature.  A good manager and leader has a hard-won skillset that is part science and part art.  We’ve all seen bad managers, so it is easy to see why they sometimes get a bad rap.  Even so, a good manager can have a tremendous impact on the team and productivity and other accomplishments.  So, broaden your world.  Give management a chance and you may find that the challenges are equally thrilling and sometimes even tougher to master.

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Introverts as Leaders

Broader role, Geek 5

One of the Geek 5 development areas is “Broader Role”.   This sometimes plays out when a geek resists taking on a different role, because he or she is a strong introvert.  In the corporate world, extroverts tends to drive things.  Sometimes introverts feel like they have trouble getting their voices heard and sometimes they don’t even feel up to trying.  We’ll spend a lot of time talking about introversion and what you can do to change your introverted behaviors.  You may not be able to change your basic predisposition to introversion, but you can learn how to behave more like an extrovert. 

Not all geeks are introverts.  Later, we’ll talk about the Myers-Briggs and other assessments that can help you figure out where you fall.


For now, I want to point you to an interesting article at  Jennifer B. Kahnweiler wrote “Why Introverts Can Make the Best Leaders”.  She lists five characteristics of introverts that can help them be good leaders.  So if you are questioning whether or not you can be a leader, consider her five characteristics about introvert leaders:

1.  They think first, talk later.

2.  They focus on depth.

3.  They exude calm.

4.  They let their fingers do the talking (prefer writing to talking)

5.  They embrace solitude.

The article is short, but makes some interesting points about introverts as leaders.  It might also give you some examples of good leadership techniques that will play to your strengths.

Kahnweiler’s article is based on her book “The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength”.  I have not read the book yet, but I intend to check it out!

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