Management Career Observations, Lessons, and Advice with Kelly Schroeder Pt. 2

Welcome to episode 59 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we have part 2 of an interview with Kelly Schroeder about the technical management career and advice for the would-be manager.

Original Recording Date: 10-15-2019

Topics – Kelly Schroeder Interview

02:19 – Kelly’s Current Role as a Manager – Observations and Lessons

  • How is this role different than his previous positions?
    • The organization is a different scale with over 2000 employees. The IT Department is 80 people, and Kelly has 15 people under him (2 supervisors and 4 direct reports).
    • This is wildly different than what he has done in the past. With a team this large, he cannot do anything technical (no room to fit into his day).
    • Kelly was hired into this job to replace someone on the way out. He replaced a quality person who had built a great team and considers himself of a maintainer than a builder.
      • Kelly realized the person he was replacing had truly cared about the wellbeing of her team. She understood them, knew them on a personal level, and helped shape them to be better people.
      • John mentioned some of the great managers he’s had exhibited the same qualities.
    • At Kelly’s level, he can know all the people on his team and interact with everyone.
      • Even though he manages managers today, the fundamental principle of caring for his people does not change.
      • If he was a level or two higher and over a larger team the connection with each person would not be feasible.
      • We’re not sure how more senior level leaders handle this, but maybe we need to have one on the show.
      • When managing managers, Kelly can set an expectation / vision and ask managers to communicate to their teams, but it’s extremely difficult to step back and avoid micromanagement.
      • John shares a fun anecdote about how to properly raise a flag in the military.
      • 12:44 – John White School of Mentoring Plug
    • Pulling back from micromanagement comes down to respect.
      • It feels disrespectful for him to do someone else’s job. When he gets the urge, he thinks about the way he would want to be treated and changes course.
      • Is managing like parenting? Listen to Kelly give some great advice here.

16:02 – Advice for the Would Be Manager

  • Know what your leadership looks like.
    • Some feel leadership looks like a charismatic leader of a large organization (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc.). Because of this misconception, Kelly originally doubted his ability to be a leader.
    • Kelly took a StrengthsFinder training and realized he could leverage his relational strengths to lead instead of trying to be like someone who he thinks is a leader.
      • The StrengthsFinder assessment is just another personality assessment that focuses specifically on your strengths rather than on what you lack.
    • The episodes on management with Charlie Nichol inspired Kelly to share his perspective with our listeners of coming from the SMB world.
  • Final thoughts…
    • For those in IT and introverted…everyone has the potential to be a leader in some way.
    • Leading is mostly about ownership and vision, which you can have over your own responsibilities as an individual contributor.
    • Don’t be a afraid of your ability to influence others.
    • There are career paths for individual contributors to remain non-managers but still be in leadership roles. Lack of a role like this in your organization may be a sign it is time to make a move to a larger company.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

  • You can find Kelly in the Spiceworks community (Sosipater is his handle).

image sources

  • Ep58: John White

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