I remember when I stepped into my first role as a leader and I felt as if I could never get enough accomplished. I was still measuring my value based on what I produced tangibly. Several of my clients are on the cusp of this chasm, leaping from the “doing” to the “leading”. Naturally, we’ve discussed several things to help them make the change.
Leading doesn’t mean you stop accomplishing tasks or tangible results. You may still do that to some degree, but it shouldn’t be your primary focus. Leading means looking at the work from a different vantage point.
If we look at the difference between a doer and a leader, we can see it this way. A doer packs the bags, and ensures the proper process has been followed. They double check the checklist, and deliver the packed bags on time to the team. A leader has determined the destination, and the best path to get there. They also determine the materials and supplies needed, and provide a timeline and the number of resources required. So how do you transition from the doer to the leader?
You start with one step at a time.
1. First, be the best doer you can be.
You want others to notice you and what you bring to the table. You want your name to be mentioned whenever anyone asks who the highest performers are in the organization. Do what you need to do to make that happen. Be a team player, volunteer for things happily, have a ‘can do’ attitude and don’t complain.
By the way—this should never end. Even the best leaders can still be doers at times. In one company I’ve worked with, I’ve seen the CEO bring drinks to a meeting when the receptionist was on vacation. It was a task that needed to be done, and it was done happily.
Don’t get in your own way by refusing to do something that you think is beneath you, or something that you don’t think is fair.
2. Look at everything as an opportunity, even if it feels like extra work.
There are going to be times when you will be asked to do something more, that seems to be out of your job description or comfort zone. Use that as your springboard to really shine. When a colleague is out on maternity leave, or you are shorthanded for some reason, find a way to help out. Going above and beyond is a sure way to get noticed and stand out to management. You’ll be known as someone they can always count on.
Don’t get in your own way by thinking that things are unfair, or management should be doing a better job so you won’t go the extra mile.
3. Determine what boundaries you’ll put in place.
A good leader doesn’t just keep taking on more work. They look at the workload, prioritize, and determine what can and cannot be accomplished. They also put a plan together, and communicate that plan or proposal to their management in order to manage expectations. Sometimes this takes some guts to push back, especially if the original expectations seemed unreasonable. But you probably have the best view of the work to be done and the reasonable timeline needed, so inform your boss. Don’t get in your own way here and make up a story that he/she already knows. They probably don’t!
Don’t get in your own way by assuming things, ever!
4. Focus on what you have control over, not what is in someone else’s sandbox.
Staying focused is one of the most prized possessions of a good leader. They don’t spend time whining about what someone else has or has not done. That’s wasted energy. They focus on what they can do and spend their energy pushing for a positive outcome.
Don’t get in your own way by pointing elsewhere instead of your own heart first.
5. Start each day with your own positive, ‘can do’ mantra!
What puts you in such a fantastic mood that you could just dance on air and not have a care in the world? Is it walking on a beach, spending time with your family, feeling loved by someone, cuddling with your dog, looking at the clouds…..? Whatever it is for you, that’s the kind of energy to bring into the workplace in order to be the best you can be.
Start each day with a picture, a song, a reading, or a reciting of a personal mantra to put you in that state, and use it as a reminder throughout your day, especially when things start getting tough. We are easily pulled into other directions when things don’t go our way, or something unexpected happens that causes us frustration. It’s not that we won’t still feel frustration on occasion, but we can keep a cooler head and make smarter decisions when we are in a positive state of mind.
Don’t get in your own way by having a bad attitude, or getting sucked into having a bad day.
Be a great day!