Leaders and Doers

Our first accomplishments as professionals are usually rooted in our skill as individual contributors. In most fields we add value in the early stages of our careers by getting things done. We’re fast, we’re efficient, and we do high-quality work. In a word, we’re doers.

But when we carry this mindset into our first leadership roles, we confuse doing with leading. We believe that by working longer, harder, and smarter than our team, we’ll inspire by example. Instead simply doing more, sustaining our success as leaders requires us to redefine how we add value.  But we have to do less and lead more.

It is much easier to know what to do than it is to lead others in the execution of the doing. As leaders, our responsibility is not to do, but to leverage the expertise across our team and to shape/enable the doing of the collective.

When the leaders are doing, who is doing the leading? The real leaders do very little, but they do invest in the development of those around them; they do enable the team to accomplish the mission; and they do invest in themselves with the objective of growing into the leaders their team deserves.

The softer skill sets, the real leadership, the ability to work with others and through others, to execute, is required to be managing people who are even more technically and analytically capable than we are—and this requires us to be effective leaders.

Summing-up: The transition from doer to leader must be deliberate if it is to happen at all. Some doers never make the transition despite their being assigned to a position of leadership. Leaders, please consider doing less, so the the team can achieve more. Doers, please ensure you are doing your part.

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