During a break at class last week, one of my adult students mentioned that he was talking with his dad about the topics we discuss in our Principles of Management class. He said his dad got SO angry and frustrated when he started to talk about them because it reminded him of his workplace. His dad has been in a leadership position for over 25 years in a major corporation and believes he is powerless to change anything. He was right…..because when you believe you are powerless you are.
I see that a lot. People feel powerless to get anything done, see the politics, the mistreatment and they want to throw in the towel. Trust me… I felt that way many times. But you can’t. Throwing in the towel is the worst thing you can do. I hear people say “But Jeff….if they don’t want to change why should I?” My answer…it’s not about “them” it’s about you! 25 years from now, do you want to look back and say you didn’t make a difference…..or worse yet, you didn’t even try? Throw in the towel and that is exactly what you have done. You will feel you wasted your entire career and not accomplished anything or made a difference.
You can ALWAYS make a difference for the people who report to you, your peers and others you touch in the organization. Fix the things you can fix. Push initiatives as far as you can. Treat your people well….even if you feel mistreated. (You know in your heart what you should be doing…. I don’t have to give you a list!) People think they have power because they are not a Director or VP…WRONG! When you start to clean up issues in your area the impact you have will become very apparent. Even if senior management seems “ungrateful” or doesn’t “care.” SO WHAT??? I tell participants in my leadership series that we all do things out of self interest (be honest…you do). Well, that’s the reason you want to “press on.” 25 years from now you don’t want to look back and think you didn’t make a difference. You make a difference every day, every week, every month, and every year by doing your job to the best of your ability and not throwing in the towel. The cumulative effect is huge. Press on… make a difference as a leader. Not for the company….but for you.