Take a look at your day to day actions and ask yourself... how much of the time I spend working each day is focused on getting things done and how much is involved in actions that are changing how things get done? The answer may surprise you.
Many of us spend the majority of our days getting things done. And many of us get a lot done. There is a significant volume of work that finds its way onto our desk that we actively work at answering, resolving, processing, reporting, delegating, fulfilling and getting 'done'. Enough so that we are stymied when we don't get the promotion. You know... 'the' promotion. The one that we thought all of the work we had been devoting extra hours to had set us up for.
Although we may question the 'why' of being passed by, the answer probably rests in the question I posed in the beginning of this article... Are you doing things, or are you changing them?
Getting things done is a great way to prove your value to the organization. If you are surrounded by those that are not as committed to contributing their efforts to achieving results, then it is a great way of trying to ensure your employability, as much as is possible in these times of rightsizing at will. However much getting caught up in the 'doing' of a role may contribute to guaranteeing your continued employment, it is in no way a guarantee of advancement.
At some level there is a definitive shift in the perceived value of an employee from simply being able to push through a volume of work to a focus on the transformative nature of that work. Leaders are required to think beyond the box. They are not simply maintaining the status quo, but are finding ways to improve it, to increase efficiencies, to decrease waste, to increase productivity, to create a competitive advantage, to identify new opportunities, to build growth. In short, a leader needs to introduce change.
This requires leaders to feel comfortable with change. They must be able to identify what changes are needed and assess the value of various options. They must be able to communicate the change and rally support behind the vision. They establish systems and processes that allow that change to become integrated into the operations of the organization. And, most importantly, they need to do it again, and again.
The mistake that many make, in building their careers and attempting to increase their promotional 'attractiveness' to the senior decision-makers, is to focus on volume and not on change. However, asking a potential leader what they changed in their current role is a key question toward uncovering what type of leadership you could expect from them. If you promote based on volume completed, don't be surprised if you create a leadership team that focuses their efforts on maintaining the status quo,
If you aspire to assume greater Leadership roles then you need to start focusing on ensuring that all of the 'doing' in your day is creating and driving some positive change for the organization. This is where the true value in effort lies and are the stories that support your bid for advancement. Engage in the activities now that allow you to have great examples and stories to share when you are asked in your next interview... "What were you responsible for changing?"