Have you ever worked on a project only to have the CEO or supervisor come in and rip it up…?
Or you’re midway through the execution stage and your boss comes in and says undo these parts and do these parts altogether differently…?
It’s now happened repeatedly for me and I’ve resolved myself to never let it happen again. The first time it happened was when I was getting a second boss and the original one gave me a tip that, little did I know, would serve me for years to come.
You see what my original boss knew was that what the incoming chief would need is constant, even casual, reports, anecdotes and news about how my area of ownership was going. Basic stuff really… how many people were being reached, how am I spending my time and what progress is being made.
I didn’t do it so well. And so the microscope came out and the micromanaging came out and all of the pressure and anxiety that comes along with them.
Another time more recently came when I was midway on a massive special events project that had the benefit of being seen by many while still largely under construction. As soon as the senior lead saw the progress, the notes and corrections started pouring in.
It didn’t matter if it was incomplete or that we had so much more to do in order to put things into focus, the fact was: I dropped the ball in proactively painting a wonderful vision about what the final picture would look like and now I was hearing about.
All of this could have been prevented had I mastered the art of one incredibly vital skill: leading up with constant vision.
What if I told you that a great majority of this could have been avoided, IF, I had only done 3 things really well:
- lead up
- lead up with vision
- lead up with vision consistently
An alternate title for this post was: “Speak the Vision or The Vision Will Be Handed To You.” The issue of having your boss(es) tear into your work can so often be avoided if they fully understand your process, timetables, actions steps and vision!
BUT, if you’re anything like me, you keep most of that stuff in your head-battling the day-to-day whirlwind, multitasking like a champion and forgetting to send a note to the big boss man/lady.
And here’s an early tip for you: CEOs and supervisors-driven by results and bottom lines-are very likely to fill in the blanks (unanswered questions) with their imagination should you allow those blanks to sit for too long! In others: as leaders we must consistently create and manage the vision or we’ll end up managing them and theirs.
So, if you’d like to see your influence expand and your impact land within your organization take to heart the following reminders:
I’ve noted this before as one of my premiere leadership lessons of 2016, but it bears repeating. We cannot buy the following lie: our position in the organization doesn’t matter, because we’re not the boss!
If you want to be considered for more responsibility and upward movement within your workplace, you must constantly be proactive in communicating to those who lead you. And not just communicating status updates, but wins, testimonials and progress too!
And allow me to dispel one oft cited excuse for NOT doing this, “well my boss doesn’t want to hear all that… better if I’m just left alone!”
If this is you, I would just challenge you to think about 2 things: 1, even if the boss is not requesting this sort of information, it may benefit him, you and your future roles at the organization because of the previously unforeseen value of such habits and; 2, at the very least, consider the benefit to the organization as the standards of excellence are raised all around you!
Lead Up With Vision
I mentioned it above but there are at least 3 things that should be included in this “vision”: 1, process-literally even your thought process and the beautiful picture in your mind; 2, timetables-goals and visions must be time bound and measurable (all S.M.A.R.T. goals are-duh); 3, action items-it’s basic: what you are doing now, what you plan to do next and what is the desired outcome (again, vision: start with vision, end with vision… it’s CRITICAL!)
…the final vision, the vision up to that point, it doesn’t matter so long as you continue to paint and hold up the picture for all stakeholders to see.
Lead Up With Vision Consistently
The key to all of this is timing. Everyone knows the following truth to be a reality: when we are not PROACTIVE we’ll reap the drama that comes with being REACTIVE. So when it comes to leading up with consistent vision, it must be early and often.
I know as well as anybody how hard it is to think of, what may seem like, ‘petty little status reports’ to the boss when we are in the thick of it… honestly, who has the time?!
But allow me to paint a final picture:
A) would you rather be the leader who is continuously rewarded with: the responsibility of vision and point person project management because you have a proven track record of being entrusted OR;
B) would you rather be continuously micromanaged and set back at the every whim of your higher-ups…?
The choice is yours, but I hope you’ll join me in this everyday challenge to lead up consistently well by communicating vision and wins as often as you can.
I’m curious, tell me about a recent run in with your boss and what you learned from it…?