“If you think you’re a leader and you turn around and no one is following you, then you’re simply out for a walk.” – James M. Kouzes
Have you ever played the game, Follow the Leader? It is the one where you designate a leader and everyone mimics what they do. It is fun for about 5 minutes, because that is about the time it takes for you to realize it’s a pointless game. What if I told you this is what most people do on a daily basis?
Think about your daily routine. The things you do mimic what your boss does or what those around you are doing. Much of it is aimless and just bouncing from one task to another. We add things to our never ending to-do list and put out fires all day long. At the end of the day, what have we accomplished?
Now, let’s do something that will change this feeling today. Think of one thing you need to accomplish to make your work easier. It can be to organize a shared drive on your work computer that is so cluttered it takes forever to find anything. It could be to complete a report early that always sneaks up on you at the end of the week. There is something on your to-do list that would make your life easier, but you never get to it. Take that task and make it your number one priority when you start your work day.
That is it. Just do the one task before you fall victim to the other tasks. The key is that you prioritize this task and you are choosing what it is. Afterwards, think about how it felt. Most people tell me it was refreshing to actually have a sense of accomplishment. It is amazing how one person felt energized after cleaning her desk area. She said it felt great to have a purpose and go after it.
Imagine taking this a step further. What if we were able to create real purpose and direction for our day? We would stop reacting to all of the little things that pop up. We would not take on busy-work tasks. We would stop looking at what others are doing and trying to mimic them. We would be seen as working with a purpose by our leaders and actually accomplishing things. We would drive home thinking about what was accomplished with pride and looking forward to what is next.
We create this purpose by determining what our finish line needs to look like. Are we working towards the end of a project? Are we trying to get promoted? Sometimes it is simply to clean our desk. We have to build this muscle of defining a purpose so we don’t fall into the Follow the Leader trap. As time goes on you will be able to place that finish line much further out and work towards a purpose others will be interested in too. That is how you become the leader others want to follow.
If you are stuck or want to take a deeper dive into this concept, we created a free course on how to do this. Go here: Become an Expert in Your Current Role