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In a full-time role, a big part of your job is to manage your own career. In consulting, a big part of your job is to manage the career of others. I’ve watched consulting companies walk into an office, proclaim everything the full-time team has accomplished to date as “shit”, and proceed to create chaos for the people in the trenches at every opportunity to further their own ends.
Consultants do not exist to crank out code. We exist to train, educate, and mentor. Coding is fun, so it’s vital to spread your knowledge through a team so they can deliver as much code as possible while providing mentorship and oversight. Helping other people to reach their full potential is a huge part of the job. That means leaving behind way more than code, it means leaving behind a piece of your knowledge and a piece of your culture.
With this in mind, it’s critical to embrace a simple philosophy that Mike Kelland, VP of Professional Services at Lightbend, first shared with me while he was the CEO of BoldRadius.
“Give credit and take blame.” – Mike Kelland
This is such an important piece of advice that I still repeat it to myself during tense times. If a mistake is made while you’re on-site, assume that it’s your mistake. Own it and identify the next steps required to improve the situation. When success is ultimately achieved, give the credit to others! There will be time for you to internalize your own impact on the success of a project, take a little piece of the credit for your company, and ultimately share your role in the achievement with others. Looking back on my career, the only way I was able to grow professionally is because other people subscribed to this philosophy and I benefitted from it. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.