You have to decide


The jobs where the boss tells you want to do are vanishing.  At your company, they very well may be gone already.

For some, this notion is quite scary.  For years (maybe decades) information workers were used to coming into the office and being told what to do.  Their priorities, even their daily to-do list, were created by someone else.  Sure, there was subjectivity and variation in how those tasks could be executed.  But in general, you could come to the office every day and do what others told you to do.  And if you did it well, you’d get a raise and maybe a promotion eventually.

Even just a couple years ago, these roles still existed in most organizations at the bottom of the org chart.  The tactical roles still took orders from their managers, and I bet plenty of companies today assume this is still the case.

But it’s not.  Even the most tactical people in your organization have a ton of leeway in how to interpret their roles.  How to execute what you’re asking for.

With the complexity and variability of what we’re all trying to accomplish, unless you work in a factory, it’s near impossible to tell others exactly what to do.  Add to that the daily (no, real-time) opportunities to measure, react to and optimize the tactics and activities that we’re using to drive customer, company and market performance, and it’s clear we don’t really have “do what you’re told” employees anymore.

If you’re waiting for someone else to tell you what to do, you’re not going to last very long.  Your boss doesn’t have time, doesn’t know, or expects you to figure it out.

Of course, many professionals are already thriving in this environment.  They work in your organization already (and it might even be you).  These workers focus on execution but look to outcomes for their inspiration and direction.  They listen to customers daily, translate stated priorities into measurable goals, and then execute based on the fastest, even repeatable and scalable path to achieve those outcomes.

We still need our leaders to lead.  Without some level of direction, it’s impossible to know where to focus next.  But once you have that direction, the specifics are up to you.  You have to decide.

Scary for some, maybe, but inspiring for others.  Which describes you?

Hat tip to Seth for helping me think about this.