Sometimes Joel just hits the nail on the head. His latest posting talks about folks who are proactive doers and thinkers versus order following automata. And in our industry, he references Eric Sink on software developers vs programmers. Every employer wants to hire smart, driven people who think and solve problems for themselves. If employees can’t think for themselves, or are not permitted to think for themselves, then the highest level of "thinking permitted" management in the organization becomes the lense through which all growth opportunities are evaluated.
I’ve met a lot of smart programmers who have just one fatal flaw — they expect management to tell them what to build. Tell us what you can build that will help solve the customers problem. Then we can all have a conversation about what we should build.