Friday, April 22, 2011

An Introvert in Charge

Progress on ISDC 2011 continues. The major moving pieces are in place, or nearly so. Lots of little details still to be worked out, but the level of heck is subsiding, and I'm actually looking forward to seeing some of this stuff unfold in person, if I'm given the time.

My friends are surprised at how well I'm handling the pre-conference stress. I tell them my supply of "gives-a-damn" has gotten too low to get really spun up. And really, I had a thought today that brought a smile to my face: one month from today, ISDC 2011 will be done, over, and I can go back to being Bart Leahy, English Major and Geek. I also find the folks who ask me, "What are you going to do with yourself?" amusing. I'm ready to respond, "Dude, who CARES?!?"

Conference management is teaching me a lot about myself:
  • I'm not particularly patient when people don't do what I ask or what they tell me they're going to do (who is?).
  • I "hire" people based on the quality of their work, but also on their ability to get along with others. That might sound like a "no duh" to some, but I'm surprised when people expect to be recruited and aren't. Ability or seniority don't wow me as much as ability + sociability.
  • I am not a micromanager, but I do want to know what's going on. Situational awareness: good. Telling everyone how to do everything: suckitude.
  • I will willingly take on the uglier tasks (apologies, large-scale organization, asking for money) and pitch in where needed.
  • I will ask for advice and, more often than not, take it unless I think the advice crosses some internal business rules I've set up in my head.
  • I am more comfortable if I have a known organization, budget, and set of rules-of-engagement.
  • I prefer precedent to automatically making up rules on the spot. Part of this is a natural conservatism, part of it is that I hate reinventing the wheel unnecessarily, and part of it is an effort to maintain consistency within a group.
  • I like brief (<1 hour), activity-focused meetings. If we have nothing further on an agenda, I end the meeting because I hate wasting time.
  • I don't yell very often, but when I do, I scare people because I don't do it very often, and  it's usually because I've allowed a bunch of little things to pile up. It is also entirely possible that I will yell because people have ignored me when I was being nice, polite, reserved, or deferential.
  • I don't like yelling.
  • I really, Really, REALLY dislike being in charge. It's not that I dislike making decisions. I'll do that. I just prefer to be in charge of my own work, not others'. That, and I prefer not being the "front guy." I'm a very happy executive officer.
  • If a decision is still pending, I will try to get as much advice and input as I can; however, once a decision has been made, I lack patience with people who offer criticism when they either provided no input into the decision or did not contribute to the result. My general attitude is, "If you didn't have to do it yourself, be thankful."
  • I prefer for-profit to non-profit management because the carrots and sticks are more concrete: do a good job, get rewarded; do a bad job, get fired.
  • I prefer requests--particularly distasteful ones--in writing. I'm also more of a learn-by-reading than learn-by-listening person.
  • I manage others the way I prefer to be managed: minimal supervision, respect for one's abilities, expectations clearly communicated unless the situation is vague. I don't have a great deal of patience with people who want a great deal of attention, feedback, direction, or encouragement. This is a problem when dealing with extroverts.
  • I am perfectly happy taking on a project, doing it well, and then dropping it. The idea of staying in one place and "empire building" bores me. I am motivated by interesting work, not seeing how many people I can get reporting to me.
So there it is. While this whole thing has made me a little nuts, my manager put "event management" on my list of competencies. Oy. And while I'm doing this ISDC thing and various background organizational duties for Science Cheerleader, that doesn't mean I want to be known as an "events guy." The INFJ still wants to be left to himself in a cubicle somewhere, writing stuff. And after all this is over, I'll be quite happy to do so again.

1 comment:

Laura said...

You're doing an awesome job, Bart! And I'm not the only one who thinks so. You can be proud that ISDC 2011 is going to rock!