The thirst for responsibility lies at the heart of true leadership.
You put your hand up in a meeting to volunteer for a tricky project, you step up to make a controversial decision when everyone else is avoiding it, you thrive on the uncertainty of something that has never been done before. You live the mentality that “if something isn’t difficult, then it isn’t worth doing.” Who wants to swim lazily through life, anyway?
There are countless opportunities to go above and beyond your station every day. Many of these instances carry a significant degree of risk. It might reflect badly on you if you fail, some of your relationships may be tested, or it might just turn out to be a waste of time. You can find a thousand reasons to decide that this extra responsibility isn’t for you. You might have simply not had your morning coffee that day.
“Sorry, I just don’t feel up to it today. Maybe tomorrow.”
In the majority of cases, tomorrow never comes because there is always someone who will be ready to embrace the challenge.
That is the essence of the everyday leader. That is the person that people want to follow, and that is the person who will be walking into the boardroom of tomorrow. It doesn’t matter where you got your MBA, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been with the company, and it doesn’t even matter how much you’ve contributed to the bottom line.
If you aren’t someone who seizes responsibility wherever possible, you won’t be someone that people will want to emulate. This for me is the holy grail of leadership.
Now, here is where the concept of visible leadership gets a little tricky.
There are some people who like to brag about their achievements, but they won’t have an audience for long. The phenomenon of word-of-mouth at the water cooler does still work, but in our ever busier lives, this small talk is gradually becoming less significant. There was a recent episode of the Amazon series Black Mirror which gave everyone a relationship score — what if there was a genuinely measurable responsibility score?
You volunteer for a task, your progress is appraised, and the end result is evaluated. This sort of thought process happens between two people all the time, but it is rare that it is documented.
Thus far it has been too cumbersome to be worth the effort. You know that you have done a good job and the recipient of your efforts knows it, so why bother documenting it? Well, the reason is simple:
If others know that you are the type to take on (and deliver on) responsibility, they will entrust you with ever more important tasks. Relationships will deepen and work will get done to an unprecedented standard. I haven’t given the Crewmojo app much airtime in the blogs thus far, but it does exactly that.
It helps to single out the true leaders among us — those who say “yes” and get it done.