“… there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
Nicolo Machiavelli – 1505
A few years ago, I spent a day helping a company set up a formal mentoring program for its emerging leaders. Aside from getting (and then talking my way out of) a speeding ticket in Pennsylvania, it was a great day. I spent the first part of the morning teaching the group about the benefits and pitfalls of putting together a formal program, then the rest of the day we used a whiteboard put the plan in place.
One thing stood out from that day. While everyone was pushing hard to get the program in place and had no problem putting tasks and dates together, nobody jumped up to take charge. Ultimately, it was kind of dumped into the lap of the HR staff (where maybe it belongs) but nobody else seemed willing to step up.
It’s not just this initiative or this company. I see it all the time.
Several reasons for this I think.
- I’m already overloaded
- I’m not really onboard, I just pretend to be
- It’s not really my job anyway
- If it fails, I don’t want to take the blame
- If it works, I won’t get the credit
- I’m lazy
I get it. I understand. Here’s the other thing I know. If you’re looking to build up your reputation, show your value, and make yourself indispensible, taking the lead in the introduction of a new order of things is the way to go!
Here are some of the benefits.
- You become a hero to the other slackers who don’t want to do it.
- You have free reign to do the program YOUR way since nobody else wants in
- You can be creative and put your own good ideas to use
- You can take full credit when it succeeds
- If it fails, you can at least take credit for being the only one who tried
People ask me all the time how to build job security or advance in their career. There’s not simple way to do it. It takes hard work, sacrifice, and often, taking risks.
Machiavelli may not have been the nicest guy, but in my book his quote above is one of the best statements ever. Your career success is ultimately in your hands. This year, what are you prepared to do to succeed?