Finding Your Inner Leader
When we look at failed organizations, our focus is directed towards the leadership, and rightfully so. When a company fails, we look directly at the “C Suite” or senior management, but what about the entire organization? What about the employees? We tend not to look at the day-to-day employee because they have been minimized. There’s been a trend of stripping the power from the “common” worker, which comes in the form of benefits, job security, and respect. No wonder why heaps of blame are placed on the leadership.
But let’s play devil’s advocate; what if there is a good leader, but the workers create a hostile work environment and are basically not getting the job done. Then, the blame lays at the feet of, you guessed it, the leader. Successful organizations draw their power from EVERYONE.
I’ve been in both work environments and have been a part of “Senior Management .”But I learned the most about leadership when I was placed in a flat organization. A flat organization is an organization where there isn’t a large chain of command or a hierarchal structure. You have a senior leadership level, and everyone else…pretty much works at the same level. But the exciting thing about this structure is the typical worker has to be a leader within this organization. There had to be an increased level of maturity and responsibility for the ordinary worker because there weren’t several levels of management watching your every action. The organization empowered me, and I knew my value. My voice mattered, but more importantly, my impact mattered.
If I didn’t get a project done on time or if the quality was subpar, I knew the consequences were severe, and the blame couldn’t rest on senior leadership. I was given the freedom to manage my projects on my time. My professional acumen grew because my work was my reputation. Also, the organization gave you enough rope to hang yourself, meaning there weren’t a “3rd strike and your out”. It was more like one, and you’re done! The stakes were higher when I was in this organization, and I enjoyed the challenge.
The biggest takeaway I had from this organization is that I didn’t need a fancy title to be an effective leader. I managed my day as I would as a project manager. Individuals like myself in this organization would wake up and know that they had a meeting to attend or lead; they created individual milestones for the day, week, month, and year. They knew how to draw on the organization’s resources and effectively used human capital to work together in effective teams. Sometimes you were the team leader, other times, you were a strong contributor. We had direct “Grown Men” conversations with our bosses, and being afraid to speak up could lead to severe consequences for the organization. No one wanted to drop the ball or be considered a weak link.
After working at this organization, I developed a few simple rules to stimulate my inner leader.
- You are your own business and brand.
Sometimes we can become lost in the name or the reputation of the company or organization we work for and forget our own self-worth and value. Instead, think of yourself as a brand and continue to build upon that brand. Your brand is your work ethic, professionalism, and knowledge.
2. You are your own project manager.
Know the tasks you need to complete for the day before, not the day of. Create milestones and objectives to meet. This will allow you to be proactive in understanding the organization’s requirements. Don’t rely on your boss to keep you on track; keep your boss on track.
Treat your fellow coworkers with respect and demand the same in return.
4. Have a life
You are not defined by the job or the title given to you. What is given can be taken away. If you lose your job, do you lose your identity, your self-worth? Discover who you are outside of the job, and you’ll be a better-balanced leader. You’ll also build empathy for others because you’ll understand the challenges of life outside of your job.
Leaders and organizations are only as influential as their people. Discovering your inner leader empowers you and your organization. It also prepares you to take on the responsibility of taking on more demanding roles.