Leadership without Rank
I was hired as a network technician in 2007 and was very excited to start my new position. If I could, I would’ve slept outside the front door on a cot in my work clothes with a toothbrush hidden under my pillow ready to go at first light. I noticed that I was acting a bit more bubbly than normal for the first six months. I attributed that to my excitement for what I was going to learn, the people I was going to meet and the impact my skills and personality were going to make in my organization.
For many months I gave it my all. I dedicated myself to the message my department was promoting and gave much more than what was expected of me. I had a big project due during the summer months one year, and I was onboard to making it a success. I chose to cancel my normal summer vacation to ensure this project was completed on time and with the utmost quality. I completed the first phase of the project on time and submitted my work. With my teeth grinned in excitement to hear the good news that I did a good job, I patiently sat and waited.
My direct report came to me a week later and said that the work I performed was non-satisfactory. Without a full explanation from my boss of where I had slipped up, I was unclear on what was expected. As my excitement still shined through, I went back to work and corrected my work that was deemed non-satisfactory. I resubmitted phase 1 and submitted a draft of phase 2 to my direct and again, waited patiently. He came back a week later and said that I was off the project. I was distraught and angered by what I saw as a kneejerk reaction without cause, reason or explanation.
This kneejerk reaction was the first incident that chipped away at my “want to do more than expected,” and I started slipping into “only do what is expected,” mentality. In another matter simple in its approach, I asked for a book so I may learn and study a new technology that we were implementing. When I asked my direct report, he said: “Let me check the budget.” A couple of weeks go by, and I hear nothing back, so I ask for it again. He again says, “Let me check the budget.” Again, a couple more weeks go by, and I hear nothing, so I ask for it again. He shows his frustration and says, “It’s not in the budget, I’m not getting it for you. If you want it so bad, go ahead and get it yourself.”
That was the second incident and nail in the coffin of “I’m only going to do what is expected of me.” That mentality only lasted a few months before I committed myself to pursuing my business full-time and giving everything I’ve got to myself and my customers where it’ll be appreciated. Ten years later, here I am writing this article and running a successful business with the best team any company could cultivate.
How many times have you experienced this for yourself or heard/seen this happen in your workplace? How many good people have left your organization due to situations that may have been completed with clear communication and reinforcing the company and employee’s mutually aligned goals? In my recollection, I can think of at least 14 people that have left the places I’ve worked over the years due to similar scenarios.
Whether you are an employer or an employee your leadership in similar scenarios detailed in my story does not require rank to make an impact. I had the pleasure of meeting Rob Redenbach at a conference he presented at in Sep 2017. He wrote a book called “Leadership without Rank,” and it focuses on the gap between what is expected of a person and what they want to give. You may find the book at his website www.redenbach.com.
There are two main points that I’d like for you to consider, no matter if you are an employer/employee/one-person-business.
- Your rank/title/position inside of a company or your social structure does have a direct correlation on the amount of influence inside of the conversations that you have. On the flip side of the same coin, the non-ranking people that take a stand for what they believe in and communicate it effectively, have an exponential amount of influence than those that say nothing.
- When you commit to creating an empowered culture that continually produces work people want to give versus producing work that they are expected to give, you must practice inside this culture every day. It is now your way of life. It is not a tactic or strategy to get people to work harder; it becomes a mutually aligned agreement between you and everyone in your life that you enroll into your possibility. This way of being and acting requires effort, dedication and taking a stand for anyone that contradicts this culture agreement, including yourself if you are the one contradicting the culture that you are building.
We as a society can accomplish spectacular things when we are not worried about looking good or feeling bad about expressing what’s important to you. Your leadership as an individual in your workplace and social structure makes an impact whether you know it or not. The feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself drives you to do in excess of what is expected. Imagine a company, a life of friends/family and a world that does in excess of what is required out of life to survive. Rah rah motivation lasts a finite amount of time. Belonging to a cause bigger than you as an individual lasts a lifetime. Consider you are the one person that can create this culture and live a powerful life that is authored by you via your Leadership without Rank.
I am open to suggestions, comments, and you sharing your story. You may direct message me by replying to this email or going to https://www.facebook.com/adam.dellos or https://www.instagram.com/hikingrugger
Have a great day today!
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