Maybe it’s because it’s where my birthday falls, but I’ve always felt like the mid-point of the year was a good time to reflect and reevaluate. New Year’s Day is alright, but after the holidays who’s really got the energy left for serious resolutions? If, like me, you’re considering a course correction for July 1, here it is.
Among the many sellers and managers I coach, waiting is a constant thread. Before making a positive step or taking responsibility for a new initiative, they find themselves waiting: waiting for a title, waiting for an executive mandate, waiting for recognition, waiting for their boss to really, truly approve of them and the actions they’re taking. Sometimes they are waiting for consensus or, worse, for everyone involved to really understand or to get on the same page.
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Certainly there is the occasional psycho, anal-retentive CEO or manager who tries to control every move. But they are the outliers, the exceptions. In my view, the need for consensus and permission in today’s business culture is more perception than reality. When I’m asked about how to get an initiative off the ground I ask the individual, “How much of this project could you just start taking on right now, without any formal action by your boss?” The answer is almost always “most of it.” Then I ask, “What exactly do you need from your boss to get started?” Occasionally there’s a shifting of some resources or a minor policy exception, but most often the answer is “not much.”
The advice is simple and clear: go take action and just keep your boss informed. Communicate your intent and then act on it. Most busy executives love to see their reports take initiative. At best it shows they are thinking on behalf of the company and trying to make things better. At worst it creates a coaching opportunity in which the boss gets to talk with you about how you’re making the change instead of a long, philosophical talk about “if.”
In the 1991 film “The Fisher King,” Robin Williams’ character gives Jeff Bridges’ some advice on how to conquer his cigarette habit. “Decide if you’re a smoker or a non-smoker and then be what you decide.”
Be what you decide. Be the change you want to see in the world. Stop waiting. Because it turns out the one you were waiting for is you.
Happy mid year.