Picture a three star Admiral on a mighty Command warship talking to a Navy Captain in a passageway between meetings. “Admiral, I need to get some time with you to go over some things I want to do,” says the Captain. The Admiral looks at the Captain with a pause, and simply says, “Feel free to do your job.” This is a story I heard during a retirement speech last week from one of the best examples of a leader I have had the honor of knowing. What was the Admiral trying to say? Was he brushing off the Captain? No, I don’t think that was it at all. He was doing one of the most important things a leader does; he was empowering this member of his team by allowing him the latitude to make his own decisions and to carry out the plan. The Admiral was demonstrating trust in him and letting the Captain know that he would be backed up as long as he was making sound decisions.
As Monkeys in the Middle, we have all worked for different Project Managers and leaders of all types. We also have a varied array of co-workers. Some people are overly cautious, some want to be told every step to make. A good Project Manager is going to want you to be assertive and to knock down barriers. Simply put, they want you to get things done. You are empowered to make decisions, to ask questions, to make connections, to look around and notice what is not complete and you are certainly empowered to provide a finished product. Do not wait to be told what to do, do not think that someone else is doing it, do not be afraid to collaborate with someone if you need help.
What is it that makes people afraid to try? There are some who are lazy, but I actually believe this is a very small percentage of people. I believe more that the people who come across as lazy are actually suffering from a blow to the ego. Either one big blow or a sustained series of blows they received over the course of their life. The trick for these individuals is to get them to believe that they are capable of big things, for once they get a taste of success – it will become something they crave. There are also those who are afraid of failure. These people will only speak up or deliver a product when they are guaranteed that it will not cause ridicule. The problem is they are not risk takers, and will be the first people to take on a detail oriented task that must be perfect, but what if they stepped out of their comfort zone? What would they be capable of then?
Today, have the confidence to go the extra mile. Take the time to do one thing you would not normally do. “Surprise” your PM by completing a task early or with an innovative spin. You do not have to be “in-charge” to lead the team forward. Feel free to do your job!
Photo attributed to http://www.flickr.com/people/usnavy