It’s not my job.
Four of the most poisonous words when strung together. As a customer, how many times have you heard this stinging phrase when seeking help? Think how utterly frustrated you become when the person at the pharmacy, cable company, doctor’s office, or government office absolves themselves of any responsibility to serve by hiding behind their job description. Your blood boils as the full force of their apathy hits you in the face like a billowing wind on a frigid day.
On the other hand, remember how delighted you felt the last time someone went above and beyond for you. When your waiter suggested a better table, offering you a more stunning view. Or the time your flight attendant noticed you looked chilly and rushed you over a warm blanket. You were likely overwhelmed with gratitude, and your opinion of the company that these caring people represent just gained some serious loyalty.
Unfortunately, leaders too often pigeonhole team members into thinking about their jobs with a myopic lens. Sure, we all have tasks on our to-do lists. But there’s also a greater mission at hand — to help fulfill the purpose of the organization. Hospitals heal the sick, not just process intake forms. Cruise lines provide memorable experiences for guests, not just open and close the buffet on time. If every team member merely completes tasks, long-term success becomes elusive. However, driving the importance of the bigger picture enables the team members to use their creativity and judgment to make a far bigger impact.
Back when I was building my company, ePrize, a junior software developer acted on a hunch. She was working on a big project and all her own tasks were on track. But, she could feel in her bones that something was off. Without a fancy leadership title, she rallied the 12-person project team to have daily stand-up meetings where they reviewed code, compared notes and ensured overall progress. The project, which would have been doomed without her valiant efforts, launched on-time, without a hitch. Success came because she realized that her actual job was to create a win for her client and our company, not to hide behind her task list.
As you lead — in your company, community or profession — make sure those around you know what the real job is. If you’re not in a leadership role yet, the more often you make things your job by taking ownership of a larger mission, the faster you will advance.