Yesterday I chanced upon having a discussion with a colleague about my career. He asked me what I thought was coming in the way of my aspirations with respect to professional advancement. During the time span of 2 weeks, it was the second time I got sucker punched. It was the second time I received feedback about myself that I’d never received before. My mind has been in a continuous state of turmoil since that discussion yesterday. Where it raised certain questions, it also made me doubt my capabilities. It sort of shook the foundations that I thought were so strong. I’d never thought that my personal outlook would carry so much meaning that it could be used to judge my professional capabilities. I’ve always failed to understand why we’ve stereotyped professional roles and why we need to break out of the mould of our personalities in order to grow professionally. For e.g. if I’m an introvert by nature, that shouldn’t have any impact on my professional growth so far as I’m not letting it interfere with my professional life. Why is it expected of me to mingle and interact with colleagues for reasons other than professional, in order to prove that I’m capable of being a good manager/leader? I think I more than make up for this lack of networking by interacting professionally with my team mates. I try to mentor them, guide them, train them and never have I ever refused to lend help to any of them. Yet, I was told that I prefer working in a silo. That I feel more comfortable in delivering individually. The worst thing about this feedback is, I’m receiving it for the first time in my 7 years of professional life. Previously, it’d always been, ‘You lack sufficient leadership skills’, so those are what I’ve been concentrating on. I’ve been working on making my juniors execute things and helping them in that. But all of a sudden, this new thing has come up. Now, I’m not a team player? Okay if that’s so, then what about all that feedback I was given about exceptional communication skills? If I’m not a good team player (be that my own team or a cross functional one) then on what grounds are you judging that I have good communication skills? Merely on my grammatically correct emails and command over the English language?
The question I want to put forth is, on what grounds have we stereotyped these roles? Is there any research that proves that a person who interacts with his team mates outside of their professional capacity would be a better manager than one who doesn’t?