You Are A Captain, Whether You Like It Or Not.
Welcome to the Captain’s Track. Or, should I say,welcome to the Captain’s Track, Captain.
Yes, you are a Captain. You got that promotion the second you made a decision that affected others. Whether it’s a co-worker, a spouse, a child, your neighbor, a pet…anyone in your sphere of existence. If you made a decision or took an action that had a direct effect on another person, you took the mantle of captain that day.
You get to choose whether that is a blessing or an albatross, tho.
Some of you are coming to this track to learn how to be a leader, and some of you are here to learn how to be a better one. In this track, we’re going to explore the characteristics of leadership, interpersonal relations, and productivity.
First, though, we need to get you out of the mindset that you are not any kind of leader at all. I used to believe that. I didn’t have any fancy title, I burned out in a supervisor job twenty some-odd years ago leading a team of thirty people, and I thought I had very poor experience in a leadership position.
I simply just could not believe—would not allow myself to believe—that I could serve any purpose to others, aside from being a bad example. I literally started over at a new company at the end of 2013, and did so at the bottom rung. My choice; I was doing penance for past sins. During all of 2014, I was immersed in the worst possible situation one could be involved in, the death of my parents. Dad’s illness and death was a long drawn out affair, Mom passed away 90 days later from lung cancer that was detected too late to do anything about. All the while, the new company was more than accommodating; they literally bent over backwards to ensure that I had the time I needed with my parents to set things right. As time went on during 2014, I wondered why that was, and I hit upon the answer: I was viewed as a good example. During all that time, my performance never suffered, I maintained a positive attitude on the job, I had good relationships with co-workers and managers, and I set an example. When I spoke with others higher up the ladder than I, or with people outside my department, I took the time to learn what they did. I wanted to learn something new from them that might be useful in my area of knowledge.
This year, I was picked to be a mentor to new hires on the floor. Most recently, I was chosen to be part of a special project that will create some very useful things for users of the products I support. I have been viewed as an example to others. My penance done, and with the heart of a pirate, I am a Captain. I always was, I just chose not to believe it.
That’s the big takeaway from this session: Believe that you are a leader to someone, and then act like it.
I have some things for you to consider when you ask the inevitable question, “OK, so how do I act like it?"
1. Own it. You’re responsible for what you do. When you own your actions, your processes, your results, people notice that. You may find yourself put in the position to help others.
2. Shut up and crush it. Don’t talk about it, DO IT. After you do it, don’t brag, just move on to the next thing to crush.
3. Quit The Negative. Stuff happens, stuff has happened, stuff will continue to happen. Acknowledge the existence of stuff happening, and don’t get caught in the negative. Negative is the race to the bottom, and you don’t want to be there.
4. Don’t avoid the managers, talk to them. You’d be surprised how many folks in leadership would be willing to talk to you. Start a conversation with them. Seriously. Learn from them. Trust me, if you have decent ideas, they will learn from you.
5. Improve everything, don’t just bitch about it. There are people that want the problem, and people that want a solution to the problem. be the latter. if you see something, and know how to fix it, then say something to someone about your idea.
6. Work WITH People. No matter where they are on the ladder, there is no Us and Them. There is only US. Work with, and cheer on, everyone.
Whether or not you have a title, whether or not you think you’re ‘good enough’, you have it in you to be a Captain. Step forward and take the wheel today.
Share with me a way you have led others, or how you found the Captain in you.