Titles and Bios

I just met someone (Person A) in my building. She works where I work.

Me: “What do you do?”

Person A: “I’m a program specialist.”


Person A:

Me: “What does that look like?”

Person A: “I manage programs in our division. I specialize in programs.”

Me: “What’s your favorite part of what you do?”

Person A:

I’m being a little facetious about this conversation, but I try to stay curious when meeting people and not let titles get in the way of understanding a person. I ask open-ended questions. Two of my favorite are “What does that look like?” and “What’s your favorite part of ….?” People are like a highway extending to the horizon; how far do you really go to get to know them?

You meet someone (Person B) on Twitter — okay, you’re just stalking them by reading their profile and recent tweets.

Person B’s profile: “Google Certified Innovator. Microsoft Educator. Apple Educator. #GoogleEdu Trainer. Director of EdTech.”

What a list! Impressive. And ….and….what does it all mean?

How do titles help and hinder us in our work? I’m listening to Multipliers by Liz Wiseman, and one of the tips she gives about leaders who consistently multiply the talent of people around them, by pushing them to do more than they think is possible, is to ignore titles and look at what people are skilled in and passionate about. If you tap into people’s passion and skills, you can ignite a flame than burns brighter than any type of adherence or compliance to the duties implied by their title.

How do you get to know people — virtually on Twitter — or in-person so that you develop a strong sense of their skills and passions? When meeting people, I typically ask “what do you enjoy most about your work?” I love to hear their response to the question, “What do you enjoy outside of work that you wish were part of your job?” For my team, this year, that question has helped unlock people’s passions in the workplace. How do you get to know people’s skills and passions so that you can honor them for who they are, provide opportunities for them to engage on a more meaningful level, and how do you become a multiplier of their talents?

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