Client meeting. Presentation to leadership. Line review with an account. Shift run at a plant. A project management review. This is not the work. Sure these are the activities that make up our days. It is what most often is listed in a job description. But it is not the work. The work is how you are showing up in all these activities.
This is where the private values, habits, and forms of mind manifest into interpersonal behaviors and leadership growth. While your activities will change over time and most likely your positional power too, that does not mean that you will. In fact, all the activities and titles may deter us from the work. As I've experienced it, the work only gets its due attention when we face a crisis in life or work or a major shift in our life journey.
While this all sounds deeply personal, and it is, it is not solitary work. We think it is and that is what often keeps us from the work. I don't know how to change? What will people think if I admit that I want to change? What am I doing with my life and career? How can I behave differently in that situation? Folks I know come to chat with me about these thoughts and almost always in a manner as if they are sharing some deep dark secret. Yet we all have these thoughts. And here is the insight: to do the work you need a partner or a group.
The work is begging to be done in relationship. Why? Because we need a group of likeminded folks for honest nonjudgmental feedback and encouragement. We need a partner who can hold up a mirror for us to see reality and a magic mirror to help us see who we want to be at the same time.
So where are you with the work? Are you too busy to tackle it? Are you unsure about how to proceed? That is ok. Do it anyways! Find a group, a friend, a partner and start the work together. Not sure of how to start? Begin by just asking yourself a few questions. Who am I and who do I want to be? What really matters in my life? What are my key values? What is keeping me stuck? What might be the shift that needs to happen to get unstuck?
The work will be worth it.
A great way to get started on this is to have a "personal board of directors". Check out this video of retired PepsiCo CEO, Steve Reneimund, discussing this concept and how important it is for leaders.
Written by Jeremiah A. Palmer
Guest Contributor for Soderquist Blog
Jeremiah is a leadership coach, adjunct professor, and brand manager, and is committed to helping others grow and develop into the best leaders they can be. Check out Jeremiah's Blog here.