Lead Your Work
- JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
Not everyone wants to be a leader in the sense that they manage others, and that’s okay. Everyone can be a leader in their work, however. When we think of being a leader, we may think of specific job roles or use the term interchangeably with “manager.” A position of authority doesn’t guarantee the individual has the characteristics of a leader. People can be leaders regardless of their job titles. A leader is ready to go first, leads by example, and motivates others to follow. Organizations need leaders in all roles to continuously improve and be successful.
It’s More Than A Job
How committed are you to your work or your organization? Are you there to just contribute, or are you ready to give it your all? Leaders are invested in their work. They’re deeply committed to their goals even if they’re striving to achieve them alone. Individuals who own their work understand how their actions align to the organization’s mission. Leaders connect with the purpose behind the outcomes of their work.
To lead your work, it’s vital to take a proactive approach rather than reactive. Employees who are reactive are passively waiting for someone else to initiate the work. Proactive employees take personal responsibility and possess a take-action attitude. They don’t passively observe; they think and act. Being proactive requires us to think in advance. Proactive employees like to be ahead of schedule and prioritize their work and responsibilities. They are able to identify what is most important to their role and their leader which enables them to lead their own work.
Someone who is proactive sets expectations with their coworkers and is accountable to those agreements. Employees who lead their work foresee and prevent obstacles, take timely and effective action, and focus on what they can control. They are problem-solvers, comfortable acting with increasing autonomy. Rather than react to circumstances that are uncontrollable, they participate in seeking solutions.
Leaders listen. They listen to their colleagues and seek best practices to adopt in their work. When we are supportive of others and collaborate with our colleagues to achieve the best possible outcomes, we put the organization first. It’s likely those who are successfully owning their own work possess a willingness to do more for their teams.
A position doesn’t define a leader. A leader is defined as someone who holds themselves accountable to the organization’s mission and inspires those around them to do the same.
5 Proficiencies To Lead Your Work
- Model the organization’s values. Understand and commit to living the organization’s standards, always.
- Understand the organization’s strategy and goals and how your work contributes to the overall mission
- Align your actions and goals to the organization’s goals.
- Listen to other points of view.
- Communicate expectations clearly. Set expectations with colleagues to work together collaboratively.
- Follow-up and follow-through. The ball is always in your court. Let team members know about progress on projects and when projects are completed. Always close the communication loop.
- Commit to ongoing training.
- Seek out opportunities for professional development and/or a mentor.