[2017 reflections] # I got a new manager at work. I resisted working with him (an Indian male) when I first heard about him. But I am thankful for his influence on my mind.
He introduced himself on the phone as a problem solver. A year later it seems like an obvious fact to me and surely many others who worked with him or even existed around him. But during that call I wondered why he said that. Why he was elevator-pitching at me. Sure, he was set to be my next manager, but I didn’t have any problems I wanted him to solve.
I was so wrong. He is leaving soon and I am wishing he’d stay. However, it’s good he’s leaving or I would have made him my crutch. Part of me wishes he’d stay because he’s the only person like himself.
I first met him in January 2017. My very first impression of him (beyond what was built up based on conversations about him) was that he looks like a wise, old man. The big eyes were filled with deep experience. I then thought he tried hard to get along and be liked by everyone. Just like the uncle who would always bring something for everyone every time he visited. Except that this guy wasn’t pleasing people with regular presents; he was unwrapping valuable gifts in the form of work solutions that colleagues needed. And they weren’t uniform gifts. He had solutions that ranged from product roadmaps to sales strategies to a how-to on dealing with difficult colleagues. Sometimes people didn’t know they needed a solution at all. He would just glide in, write a problem on the board making people believe in it, and then give them a solution for it as well. Most often, people left feeling thankful.
My conversations with him have ranged from deeply uncomfortable to highly inspirational. I have only known one other person whose practical application of their knowledge has been as precise and thoughtful as his. The only difference between the two has been their approach to how they interact with people around them. N, very consciously, has treated everyone as a peer, opening a channel that can only be productive in a professional interaction. I think it is safe to say that he is the type of person who takes people along with them. A year ago, I could not have imagined having a direct and open conversation with him or any other senior colleague without an unfounded fear established by hierarchy. Of course, there are still some people with whom I cannot be as open as I’d like, but I feel like I am now at a point where I don’t consider that as a shortcoming at my end.
He has left me in tears on occasion – not because he managed to offend me but because he helped me unravel perspectives (and sometimes facts) that I never considered with sufficient clarity or thought. I winced when he asked me to read a book on self-awareness. And I never read that book, but I now know why he asked me to read it.
I have also laughed at his absurdity and our disagreements alike. And I appreciate how he never made a bone about any of it.
He recently introduced me to the idea of an idea independent of the self. We agreed that I am a few steps away from being successful at not being attached to my ideas, but it certainly provoked a thought that I am glad has stuck with me.
His own defence mechanism is quite evident. As most things N, most of it is deliberate, and some of it natural. He has always come across as confident and in control, and I am not the one to get personal with anyone at work. But based on what I have sensed, I hope he does okay and gets all that he needs. I, for one, will always be wishing well.