“You need to have an opinion.”
It wasn’t the thing I wanted to hear, but there it was. My experienced colleague was explaining the subtleties of working in a big company and this came up as something you need to do if you have or want a leadership position. The thinking goes that the more “up” you go, people will look up to you and ask, “what to do”, “what do you think about this move”, or “how will this affect us”. You can always say “I don’t know” or just stay silent in a crowded meeting where other people will jump in. However, if you want to be seen as a leader, you have to have an informed opinion. People don’t follow individuals who don’t communicate where they’re heading.
Even though the tip is short and non-ambiguous, it got me thinking about other things in big companies that are different from small companies. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized the things are not really that much different, it’s just that they don’t come to prominence in a small company. If you’re working in a 20-person shop, everyone knows everyone else, there is usually one boss (the founder), and it’s not as complicated as in a 20,000-person corporation. However, the tips are relevant in both cases, so I decided to write down lessons learned coming from a world where 100 people is a lot to a world where 50,000 people is not the biggest player around.