As mentioned in the previous article, the outstanding individual contributors work hard. If you are in this phase on your journey, you are committed to producing great results. You have probably gotten a job that utilizes your skills and education. You are not necessarily entry level but you are not yet leading a team. You often feel the rush of a job well done and other people come to you when they need help solving problems or navigating something new. Sometimes you work overtime and you are constantly looking for ways to stay on top of trends and new education about your area of expertise. You probably enjoy coming to work and feel like you are working hard to contribute to the company in a meaningful way. Your work is important and necessary to the success of the company.
When in this phase, you have two options:
1- Continue to be an Outstanding Individual Contributor
2 - Close the gap and become an Emerging Leader
One day, you might see someone doing work that you want to do and feel inspired. Maybe you overhear a conversation between them and a peer and see the shift in how the other person viewed their work. Or it could be that you feel you are capped out in your current position and start to feel you want more; more impact, more money, more… something. If you start to see that you are not where you want to be, it is time to figure out why; it is time to close the gap.
Step one - Ask for help: Find someone who is doing the type of work you want to be doing or who has the job you want and ask them about it. What does a day in the life look like? How did they get there? What shifts did they have to make in themselves to show up powerfully in that role? What kind of person do they have to be for others to be successful in that role?
Step two - Start doing hard work on yourself: Question why you are the way you are. Do you have any habits or set ways of being that are getting in your way? Do you have a short temper that is just “how you are”? Maybe you are a slave to your moods and feelings. These are areas you need to get really clear on. Ask your friends and family how you occur for them. Ask them what they can always count on you for and what they can never count on you for. Ask them what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. When doing this, create a safe space and assure them that you are exploring this for your own growth and you genuinely need the feedback to take the next step in your life.
Step three - Work on a new being state: Once you understand where you want to go and have feedback from people in your life, you need to work on the actual changes. What got you here will not get you there so if you got feedback that you are always late, you need to start being early to everything. If people feel they can’t talk to you about hard topics, figure out why and start improving your listening skills.
Step four - Pay attention to how others experience you: Do people start opening up to you more and trusting your reactions now that you have done the hard internal work? Is there more peace when you are in a group of people? People judge themselves by their intentions, and others judge them by their actions. You cannot rely only on what you think you are doing. Instead you must look at how your actions are landing on others. If there is no change in how others are experiencing you, you haven’t actually closed the gap. But if there is a change, you are ready for phase two.
*Take a look at the next part in the series tomorrow to find out how to grow into the next level leader.