Earlier this week, Kyle shared his journey on leadership. It’s a story about how he’s found success –and how success has often found him – over his 11 years at Microsoft. He’s eager to apply what he learned from his leaders throughout his life to all he does, including his role in Staffing at Microsoft. In his humility, he won’t tell you that it’s his hard work, smarts, and his ability to listen and empathize that led to each new opportunity. There’s a reason leaders sought him out and were persistent in convincing him to take on new roles – they saw his strengths. One of which is clearly his own leadership skills.
To summarize Kyle’s first blog post, on how he continues to develop his career through many different roles across Microsoft, we have three career tips for you:
- Be open to new opportunities – sometimes they find you.
- Listen generously and be open to what others may see.
- Pay attention to and pursue what gives you energy.
Here in today’s story, Kyle shares the three characteristics he believes make a strong leader.
In his own words:
What I’ve learned about making big transitions
Microsoft is like a small city. There is a ton of opportunity to meet amazing people and find things you love to do, or to build skills you need to realize your dream. I’ve had seven jobs in 11 years in three very different organizations. However, it took me a while to figure out what I liked to do (and I am still refining it). I pushed myself to my limits before I got here, but it was an awakening that led me to take on roles that I can stand behind, represent to my friends and family, and feel great about each day.
My experience has taught me three core things that can make the difference in transitions.
I believe all change and growth starts with curiosity. Every time someone or something has inspired me or struck my interest – I follow that feeling. Also I genuinely believe I can learn something from anyone – regardless of title, age, or social status. If someone sparks my curiosity, I ask them their story. About 95% of the time they are supportive. The other 5% remind me of who I don’t want to become.
When I’m meeting new people or interviewing for a job, I’ve found that people are far more interested in whether I am authentically present, credible, and passionate, than they are about my credentials. Credentials matter, but not as much as who you are.
When I interviewed for my role in HR, a few times I was referred to as an “Operations guy,” but I never really bought into that. The department I worked in, my title, or my level doesn’t embody me or my capabilities – it’s a data point. What did help was my ability to translate how my experience in Operations applied to HR and why I wanted to join the organization.
Throughout my career I’ve had some managers who sincerely cared about partnering with me on my development, and some who didn’t. At the end of the day, I know that the person who cares most about my career and development is me. I’ve tried to take that seriously and push myself into uncomfortable experiences to expand my skills, self-awareness, and understanding of the big picture. That said, finding great career partners can make a big difference. We all need someone to believe in us, hold up a mirror and help us access our potential. My goal is to be that person for others in their journey.
According to Working Identity (Ibarra), one key to making a career transition is to start moving (a vast paraphrase on my part – she says it better than me). It can be easy to over-analyze a potential change. We want to have all the pros and cons figured out. But motion is often a great ally in learning. Motion might be taking the time to learn about yourself, going on an adventure, reaching out to familiar or new people, or just applying for something new. Each new experience can lead to awareness – an adaptive process that starts today.
If you missed Kyle’s first story about his personal journey on leadership, where he talked about the values he learned from his parents, and how he was sought after for promotions, read it here.
If you’d like to begin your own inspired trajectory at Microsoft, apply at Microsoft Careers today.
Photos by Therese Frare