Monday, 26 November 2018
Shift #13. Principle: Leadership.

From doing your job, to doing your real job.

What you think is your job, is not your real job. Suppose you’re a janitor. You think your job is to sweep the floors, clean the windows, take out the trash, etcetera. It’s the list. The boxes you need to check every day, before you can leave. And you’re plenty busy!

But that’s not your real job. Your real job is to make sure all the physical spaces in the building are clean, beautiful and well run.

Let’s call these Job 1 and Job 2. Job 1 is the list of tasks. Job 2 is the mandate. Don’t mistake the tasks for the mandate. The mandate supersedes, creates, and prioritizes the tasks.

Suppose you notice that the bouquet of flowers that’s in the vase on the table in the lobby has died. But nobody told you to do anything about it. It’s not on your list. So you clean the table, then move on to the next task — without replacing the flowers. “After all, it’s not my job.”

That’s the Job 1 mindset. The Job 2 mindset is very different. Without asking for permission, you throw out the dead flowers, and replace them with new ones. Then you add it to your list, for now on. You also notice that there’s no doormat, so shoes track in rain and mud, and the floor gets slippery and dirty. You clean the floor, buy a doormat, and add it to your list. When you report to your manager, you review these upgrades, and brainstorm even more improvements!

You may be wondering… “Why should I create more work for myself? Soon, I’ll be working overtime!” That’s the Job 1 mindset. The Job 2 mindset trusts you’ll be rewarded for more responsibility with more power, more resources, and higher pay. But you don’t watch the clock or demand a raise. You focus on making yourself indispensable, and taking results to the next level. There’s a big difference between a building with swept floors, clean windows and empty trashcans, and an immaculate, sparkling, wonderland. Along the way, you’re not necessarily working longer hours. You’re finding leverage, prioritizing, asking for more resources, and finding collaborators.

Soon, the expansionist janitor becomes an interior designer, office manager, community builder, and hospitality provider. Eventually, everyone realizes the transformation, and management decides they can’t afford to lose you, so they give you a raise and a fancy title, like “Facilities Director.” And in the next chapter of your career, you become VP of HR. And in the next chapter, you enter the C-Suite. And eventually, you’re the CEO.

As the CEO, my “Job 1” is to write a monthly investor report, do weekly management calls, set quarterly objectives, etcetera. But my “Job 2” is terrifyingly broad: make the company succeed.

What’s your Job 1 and Job 2. For example, if you’re on the Customer Success team, your “Job 1” may be to update a dashboard, check on a project’s status, or call a client. But your Job 2 is to make sure we’re delivering great outcomes for clients, then turning those wins into more delegations and referrals.

By definition, we have all risen to our level of incompetence. This is called The Peter Principle, and it explains why everyone is at the level they are at in a hierarchy. The Job 2 mindset is critical to ascending hierarchies.

Without it, you’re blind. You’re only able to see what you’ve been explicitly told to do. But with it, you’re able to see adjacent opportunities. The ability to create new jobs for yourself is the first step towards being able to create new jobs for other people.

Stay focused on the goal.