Where I work, I’m considered fairly senior. I’ve got a good deal of experience, and people generally respect my opinion.
This has had an important consequence which I didn’t expect. I have the power to make people feel good about themselves professionally. For example, when someone comes to me with a design – especially if they’re feeling insecure about it, especially if they’re fairly new or junior and are nervous about coming forward with it – by getting excited about their work and encouraging them, I can lead them in turn to be excited about their own work.
One of the wonderful things about this is that it doesn’t require that their design be excellent in order to work. Even if the design is deeply flawed, the conversation that results will reveal the ideas which led to it, and will encourage them to think more about it, and by the end of it they wil have something that they’re excited about.
Another one is that oddly enough, this seems to work for good but not for evil. Having a senior person – one you respect but don’t necessarily know personally – praise your work has a much more positive impact, overall, than having the same person deride it would have a negative impact. Not that I would want to do that, but it’s very pleasing to me to think that there is a benefit which can come in life from a form of power which isn’t immediately translatable into its opposite.
There wasn’t any particular recent event that inspired this post. It just occurred to me that at various times in the past, I’ve spoken with people who were unsure about their work, and when they left they clearly felt really good about it; and those have been some of my favorite moments.
Working with people is neat.