By Jun Marfori
“The job is what you make of it.”
Two decades back, this was the profound statement that a now long-time personal mentor and extremely good friend told me.
Seemingly paradoxical, and yet on personal hindsight, I believe a most visionary definition of a worker, and most certainly a leader, who may be aspiring to fulfill a designated role, an assigned function, or, what was once called, a “job description.” Used back then as an encouraging remark to persuade me to shift gears and function, the statement was no sooner said when the key principle of change management emerged strongly. Very quickly, change management entities and consultants – to companies seeking to down size, right size or “change business models” – trumpeted this adage and the “new norm” as a key fundamental survival toolkit and a winning edge or element.
Leaders today face constantly evolving and even daunting challenges and changes, even where resources are not limited; talent and potential are in abundance; competence and capability are high; and even in the most successful of companies. To name a few:
- Impact of rapidly changing technology
- Managing a broad multi-generational workforce
- Increased globalization, remotely located workforce
- Abundance of, and real-time, online information; the increasing need for analytics
- Disruption, and the need for order amidst the chaos
Are these temporary? Or are these changes, these developments and trends – are they here to stay?
By no uncertain means, the workplace, the business environments, the context in which performance and success are defined, will continue to evolve, and this transformation will only increase in rate.
Glenn Llopis (Contributing writer, Forbes magazine) says: Change is the new normal for leadership success and all leaders must accept this fact.
Tal Shnall (Lead with Giants Coaching and Consulting) says: Leadership in the 21st century will require leaders to foster the ability to continuously lead people through positive change. In addition, leaders will be judged on how well they are anticipating the unexpected before circumstances force their hand.
As a leader, you must take responsibility to create positive change to drive positive results under your watch. Your job as a leader is to improve and create momentum toward a lasting change that inspires the people around you to follow a worthwhile cause. (Tal Shnall)
It would seem the sanest and most logical thing to do then, kick start that “out of the box thinking” we have always heard people say, if we haven’t done it yet. If we are still religiously seeking to fulfill the standard “duties and responsibilities” as contained in our Job Description, or Position Profile – we may very well be herding ourselves towards extinction.
Glenn LLopis further says: Every Leader must be a Change Agent, or Face Extinction. We as leaders are each called to be a Change Agent, a Catalyst, and here are what experts tell us: Do not be comfortable with the status quo.
As a leader, always look to improve, get better, develop and grow – not only yourself but the people you lead. Possess and demonstrate the hunger to raise the bar; lead your team to a better tomorrow. Great leaders not only say they want to be the best but challenge the status quo in order to move beyond the comfortable and safe waters.
Lead change by your own example. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” (John Maxwell, a leadership speaker / author). A great leader’s mark is not what they say but what they do; they model through their actions. People don’t always hear what you say, but they will always see what you do.
Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Own the problem and move forward to become part of the solution by shifting away from blame and toxic behavior. Be ready to take criticism and feedback; do not pass the buck on your leadership. People want to follow someone who owns the problem, admits mistakes when they happen; display willingness to learn and embrace change.
Demonstrate a sense of urgency. Don’t wait for things to happen; make them happen. Avoid the safe zone; take risks and shake things up to get the ship moving.
So, the next time someone asks you to define your job, say “It is what I make out of it.”
Then lead the way, and say: ‘Let me show you. Then do I as I do.”
Remember that great leaders take action today, not tomorrow. And in this way, they make a difference.