You are a cog.
Regardless of your position, you are a cog.
You are part of a living, breathing organization, and your role is to keep the machine running smoothly.
Most people focus on being the best cog they can be, performing their job as best as they can.
Unfortunately, this approach is reactive.
While it’s essential to perform your role to the best of your ability, the real secret to a successful career is to be the oil.
When you are the oil, you step into the role of a mindful leader, going beyond the limited boundaries of your position, taking ownership for the end result, doing whatever it takes to ensure that everything runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
If you want to take your career to the next level, the best thing you can do is to be the oil.
Here are 7 things that you can apply today to be the oil in your organization.
1) Know your role.
You need to be extremely competent in every aspect of your job.
This is the best place to start because it is totally within your control.
If you are weak in a specific area, invest some time and energy to get stronger.
I always make sure, regardless of what role I’m in, to be learning something new.
Be mindful of your role.
2) Uncover your value.
How does your role contribute to the bottom line?
As you build competence in your role, you also want to step back and see the bigger picture.
The company you work for is paying you from the profits they make from selling a product or delivering a service.
The work you do somehow impacts the bottom line.
You need to figure this out because if you are not adding value, you are not valuable to the organization.
Be mindful of how your work impacts the bottom line.
3) Know how your work impacts the cogs around you.
Once you have an understanding of how your work adds value to the organization, you can turn your attention towards how your work impacts the people around you.
Invest some time to understand the next steps in the overall system you are a part of.
If you are a systems analyst creating application designs, how does your work impact the coders and testers?
If you are a call centre support person, how does your work impact the sales staff?
If you are a product manager, how does your work impact your team?
Be mindful of how your work affects the people around you.
4) Learn the system.
Continue learning about each cog until you understand the entire system.
As a project manager working in a large corporate environment, I’m still discovering areas that I didn’t know existed.
Be curious, ask questions, and be mindful of the entire system.
5) Take ownership of the end result.
Once you understand the entire system, take ownership of the end result.
What’s the role of your department in your organization?
If you are a member of a project team, have you discovered the reason for the project?
Become a champion of the process and be mindful of the end result.
6) Serve your tribe.
With your newfound knowledge, make some changes to improve the overall system.
What can you do to make the life of other cogs in the system a little bit easier?
How can you modify your role to make the lives of those in your tribe easier?
Discover what minor changes you can make that will make the entire system run effectively and efficiently.
Be mindful of how you are serving your tribe.
7) Keep going.
Continue to make adjustments in your work to help others.
Make suggestions to improve the end-to-end process.
Share your knowledge with others and enlist their help in making the process more effective.
Be mindful of how you are developing other mindful leaders.
Your mindful leadership action is to transition from being a cog to being the oil.
Choose one of the questions below and determine which activity you can apply today.
Be mindful of …
- Your role.
- How your work impacts the bottom line.
- How your work affects the people around you.
- The entire system.
- The end result.
- How you are serving your tribe.
- How you are developing other mindful leaders.
Develop the mindset of a Mindful Leader as you transition from a cog to being the oil.
What insight have you gained as you transition from being a cog to being the oil? Post your comments below. I’d love to hear about it.
How Great Leaders Become Great Leaders
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