QuickNote: Knowing Where You Excel

23 Jan

Today I participated on a large review panel (20 people or so).  This is not an uncommon occurrence.  What is uncommon is that the head of the board had to leave midway through and I was volunteered, elected, and deputized in her place.

“You have to be careful because sometimes your vanity can cause you to take the wrong job.”  So said Benedict Cumberbatch on the importance of reading the script before taking the title role in Sherlock.  The traditional model of corporate leadership has held that the best [fill in the blank] step up to become managers of their former positions.  But of course, it’s been widely realized that the skills to be a great [blank] and the skills to become a great manager are unrelated.

I can say without exaggerating that on an objective level, I am a great panelist.  Strong attention span, calm and inviting demeanor, a discerning intellect and (evidently) an uncanny ability to ask the right questions without revealing a point of view.  But I hate being in charge, because the head of the panel has totally different priorities.  Essentially, your job is to keep the investigation on course – it’s not just a managerial, but a centrist position.

In this case, it didn’t matter much: a one-day panel means playing that role for a few hours, and I’m okay with that.  But I was highly conscious of how different it felt to be just “good enough”.


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