This is missing one major ingredient: Office politics, image and associated soft skills
Finding more and more that actual technical skill has less and less impact on my professional career.
As uncomfortable as it makes me the conclusion is inescapable: playing the game well is now front and center
Things like effectively communicating ideas, getting people aligned on a project, improving team morale etc. are very important soft skills that deserve to be rewarded.
Wasteful politics like sucking up to the right people, claiming credit for others work by giving the higher ups an inaccurate view of your contributions, putting others down etc. are what gets people promoted more often from what I've noticed, and should not be confused with good communication skills.
I believe it is both naive to ignore politics, and immoral to fullheartedly embrace them. You need to be wise enough to play the game, and self-aware enough to step outside of it when possible.
There's a moral aspect there -- the idea that power and organization shouldn't be tied to those kinds of petty, exclusionary games. But there's also a very practical aspect, because if you ever find yourself acting as a manager and making critical decisions, being able to look behind the game will allow you to make better, more pragmatic choices and to surround yourself with people who are actually productive and actually increase team cohesion -- not just who are popular or good at making flashy contributions.
Most of your job will be getting people to do things (together, in the right order, without fighting).
But different occupations need a different amount of interpersonal skills: a CEO or TV host need more, while a surgeon or a fighter jet pilot need somehow less.
It all depends on where you want to end up.
You could probably coast along in surgery as well on almost zero interpersonal skills.
If by nature and nature you are in line with said norms, that’s one thing. If you’re not (which isn’t a good or bad thing, just is) then you’ll probably need more of those aforementioned interpersonal skills than someone who “fits the profile” (especially when the profile is maybe not even a deliberate thing that people are aware of), so to speak.
Truth be told learning to develop more interpersonal skills is a _plus_. It’s so valuable in life in general, well beyond the workplace.
You can go very far on essentially zero interpersonal skills, especially if you specialize in pathology or radiology.
Link to google talk of Robert Greene (2018) :
For anyone wondering what the list of proposed laws are:
> Law 7: Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit
Always shocks me that some people are actually proud of and recommend this kind of stuff. I guess it makes sense for a google talk, especially given how the google promo and perf review system works.
Not sure it’s aspired to be anything else. Though, in fairness it seems to have succeeded somewhat on those terms.
> playing the game well is now front and center
As it always has been and ever shall be :)
I agree that social and communication skills are incredibly important in groups and generally more important than technical skills outside of deep specialties.
One of the key points of the post is:
> Developing your thoughts and a clear position in a written form that you are comfortable with people reading and using as the basis of a discussion is a terrific quality bar for those thoughts.
The more you develop your thoughts and position, the better you'll be able to play the game in a discussion or another forum. You and your colleagues can win through deeper understanding of customers & stakeholders, the problem, and solution space. I expect your colleagues will recognize that expertise and understanding even if they don't want to admit their position is 'wrong.'
Of course understanding the landscape and the 'right' move does not guarantee success. You still need to influence decision makers to give it a shot, and then you'll see whether the idea works or not.
I learned a lot about how to do this from books like 'How to Win Friends and Influence People', Influencer (Grenny), and 'Getting More' (Diamond) I also benefited tremendously from an 2-day workshop on public speaking.
There's nothing like doing this where the outcomes matter and it's a challenge for your current skills. So in addition to the publishing challenges outlined in the post, you can develop your ability to influence by:
Changing some minds
Present your ideas at user groups and conferences. You can ground the talk in material you an expert in and/or written about, but the important bit is to practice developing and communicating a point of view that influences people in some way: challenge 'conventional wisdom' or help people understand when to use or not use 'Best Practice'. My colleague Bob Lalasz has an _excellent_ series on developing a point of view: https://scienceplusstory.com/tag/pov/
Changing your org
Plan and execute some change within your team or organization, scaling up the ladder of "we don't do X" until you're satisfied. I recommend starting with small numbers of people/HiPPOs: convince the one or two engineers you're working with to adopt unit testing or static analysis for this one project to see how it goes, then convince the team to try continuous improvement via retrospectives and 20% allocation to improve daily work. And work your way up.
I don't know if this counts as 'playing the game,' though I do think developing and executing strategy is fun.
I mostly think of these practices as making things better for myself, colleagues, and customers.
>Changing your org
Rapidly losing faith in this one - and frankly even attempting it. Its very silo'd. The 20 odd people reporting to me I don't really need to convince/influence - they do whatever I tell them anyway. Influencing other silos is high risk low reward thus far. Way too many vested interest/stepping on someone else's turf. I've just decided fixing company culture is the owners battle not mine