One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Peter Drucker:
Management is doing things right.
Leadership is doing the right things.
As I work with people in thinking about their careers, what I notice is that people spend a lot of time thinking about how to manage themselves and their work. They are focused on doing things right for their current job. They focus on:
- Responding to the needs of their current employer so they get great performance reviews and advance in their careers.
- Meeting (or preferably exceeding) the performance objectives that their employers have set for them.
- Networking with the right people (from their employer's perspective) so they achieve their employer's organizational goals.
- Developing the skills that their employer tells them that they need to do their current jobs well.
There's nothing wrong with this, of course. To keep your job, you need to be good at it.
But what happens is that in our focus on career management, we lose sight of career leadership.
In other words, while we are worrying about doing things right, we aren't taking the time to question if we are doing the right things.
Too often what I find is that while people were focused on dotting all the "i's" and crossing all the "t's," the landscape around them was changing.
Suddenly, they are doing work that doesn't play to their strengths.
Or the requirements and demands of their occupation or industry have drastically changed and they haven't been keeping up.
Or their organization closes and they find themselves adrift in a crappy job market.
Or they wake up one morning, look around, and ask "Is this really all there is for me with work?"
Career management doesn't cut it in today's economy. We need to become leaders in our own lives.
Stop asking "Am I Doing Things Right?" and start asking "Am I Doing the Right Things?"
See how life begins to shift . . .