Browsing the archives for the Outside Articles category.

WSJ Talks about Geeks as Leaders – sound familiar?

Geek 5, Leadership, Leadership Development, Outside Articles, Uncategorized

Geek careers are starting to get some notice!  Over at Wall Street Journal online, Robert Fulmer and Byron Hanson wrote an article called “Do Techies make Good Leaders?”.

It’s a great article and very consistent with the philosophy of Geeks Gone Pro.  It takes a different approach to looking at the same problem.  Geeks Gone Pro considers career and leadership development from the geek’s point of view.  We focus on the Geek 5 risks and how a geek can overcome them.  This blog is intended to help geeks develop the skills they need in order to advance in their careers and become leaders if they so desire.

The Fulmer and Hanson article considers the same issue from the organization’s perspective.  They discuss programs and perspectives that can help a company develop geeks into stronger leaders.  Some of their suggestions include:

  • Formalizing leadership development processes and programs
  • Using data to measureprogress and success in talent management.  After all, what is measured gets done.
  • Value leadership.
  • Engage the audience.
  • Encourage coaching.

I would add to their list that companies should ask geeks to take ownership for their own careers.  Using resources like Geeks Gone Pro can help geeks grow and develop into our future leaders.   Leaders with great technical skills and great leadership skills are unstoppable!

Check out the WSJ article!

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Article: Using Fear to Control Employees

Outside Articles

Over at BusinessWeek.com, Liz Ryan posted a great article called “Ten Signs of a Fear-based Workplace”.  Some of the scenarios she describes are, unfortunately, quite common.  They range from brown nosing being common to a focus on getting results regardless of how the results are achieved.  Even an overabundance of rules can mean that the company is fearful of employee actions and therefore tries to control everything.  My favorite sign is when the boss from The Office television show seems like a good guy compared to your own boss.

In today’s tough economy and job market, has civility and respect and professionalism disappeared from the workplace?

If you witness or experience any of the signs listed in her article, you are probably in a fear dominated company.

Some questions to consider:

  • Does this describe your workplace?
  • If you are a leader, how can you prevent these types of problems?
  • As an employee, how can you push back against fear tactics?
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Building your financial acumen

Business Acumen, Geek 5, Outside Articles

In the last post, we talked about the importance of financial acumen to geeks progressing in their careers.  So now you’re thinking, I know I need it, but how do I get it?  And – how painful is it going to be?

OK, OK, learning about financial stuff might not be as exciting as some endeavors, but it is still important.

I found a great website that can help with some accounting and finance skills – and most of the site is free!  See – it is a great financial decision already!

The site is called accounting coach.com. The site is run by Harold Averkamp and he is dedicated to improving knowledge and skills related to accounting.  Containing a wealth of information, the site presents accounting concepts in easy to understand terminology and in bite-sized chunks.

The Accounting Topics section contains tutorials on concepts like Accounting Basics and Depreciation and Activity-Based Costing and Improving Profits.  If those topics don’t mean anything to you, then you desperately need these tutorials!

My favorite part of the site is the Test Yourself section.  It offers quizzes and crossword puzzles and word searches with financial themes. I failed the Basic Accounting quiz, so I obviously need to spend more time with the tutorials!

This is a great place to get started.  Once you master some basic concepts, you can seek out a mentor at your company who can help you apply the new concepts to your specific company.

Good luck on your path to financial enlightenment!

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Supporting Geek Women

Broader role, Geek 5, Outside Articles

As we enter this holiday weekend, I’m going to point you to some resources in support of geek women.

The first is a blog that I just found called Geek Feminism Blog.  Recent posts include topics like “Behaving like an honorary guy” and “IT careers for an older IT woman”.  The blog seems to focus on the challenges that women face in geek industries that are often largely male dominated.

I’m also going to point you to a great article over at Forbes.com.  Written by Kelly Watson it is called “The Four Myths of Self-Promotion” and the tag line is “It’s time to toot your own horn”.  It talks about the myths and misperceptions that many women have about self-promotion.  Women shy away from self-promotion, because they are uncomfortable with it.  That can be detrimental to your career.  This article helps women get past the discomfort.

Although this article focuses on women, it is a good lesson for most geeks.  One of the Geek 5 risks is about the resistance many geeks have to taking on a broader leadership role.  Geeks in general are uncomfortable with self-promotion and touting their own strengths.  So this advice should apply to most geeks.

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The dark side of conscientiousness

Career Challenges, Outside Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Conscientiousness is usually a good trait, but sometimes  it can be tough to be a highly conscientious person.  In this case, we’re discussing the impact of conscientiousness on unemployment and the job search.  

There is a lot of job search advice floating around out there. Check out Career Alltop to find some of it.  This blog does not normally talk about the job search, but I’m diverging for a moment.  In the last post, I made some suggestions for “mixing it up” during a job search to try and get out of a rut.

Anita Bruzzese at On The Job presents an interesting perspective in her post “Could being conscientious make unemployment worse?”.    She discusses how people with strong conscientiousness may have a harder time with unemployment.  They feel more guilt and shame about their circumstances and are more likely to attribute it to a personal failing.  Usually conscientiousness is a good trait.  It helps people get things done and be responsible.  In this case, it might be detrimental. 

In today’s economy a lot of good and talented people are out of work due to no fault of their own.  Conscientiousness might make some folks suffer more than needed due to circumstances out of their control. 

If you are one of those people, keep your head up, your spirits high and do some things to change your approach to finding a new job.

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A Dash of Charisma

Broader role, Geek 5, Outside Articles

There is a theory of leadership that attributes leadership success to personality – it is called charismatic leadership.  It supposes that successful leaders influence others through the power of their personalities – through charm and attractiveness and force of will.  Charismatic leaders have exceptional personal qualities that can border on heroic or superuman.  With this theory, the competence of the leader is not as critical as the leader’s ability to influence people.

Charismatic leadership has been essentially disproven as an effective strategy.  Research shows that successful leaders must be competent and adaptable in addition to having personal influence.  Charisma is only one piece of the puzzle.  However, it is an important piece – especially as you move up the executive ladder.

Leaders are always being watched  and judged on their behavior and attitudes and decisions and personality.    Having personal charisma can make the leadership spotlight easier to bear.  When coworkers like you, they give the benefit of the doubt when a situation gets tense.

Geeks tend to focus on technical expertise versus leadership skills.  Furthermore, introversion and lack of perceiving themselves as leaders can result in a charisma deficit.  Geeks can be quiet versus outgoing, inward focused versus people focused and often don’t think much about physical impressions.

But don’t worry!  Charisma can be learned!

Over at BusinessWeek, Debra Benton wrote an article called “Get Yourself Some Executive Charisma“.  She talks about charisma being a skill, and one that everyone can learn and improve upon.  She equates it to golf and how golf skills can be continuously improved over a lifetime.

The really helpful part of her article is that she gives concrete and easy to follow advice on how to start enhancing your charisma.  She talks about posture and handshakes and more.

If you think you could benefit from an extra dash of charisma, check it out!

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