Discover Yourself as a Leader: Part One - Doing What Needs to Be Done

founders sitting around a table working

In part one of this series, we take a look at working hard versus doing hard work. 

When my business partners and I started In Time Tec in 2009, we worked HARD. We all still had full-time jobs and were working on In Time Tec during any free time we had. We were often up early and going to bed late, spending most of our evenings and weekends in our home offices taking phone calls, closing deals, completing projects; seemingly sacrificing our time with family and friends for the pursuit of this dream. We did this until some of us were in a position to quit our full-time jobs and hire employees. Even then, we didn’t stop working hard. We had to establish infrastructure and operational policies, address HR laws, set the vision and execute on strategy, build competencies, grow revenue, manage the finances, and learn so much. 

During all this time, we were also beginning our journey of hard work. Working with other people is always more complex than working alone, because humans are beautifully complex creatures with different experiences and goals and values. Being individual contributors or managers in previous jobs had prepared us to start a business. It had not prepared us to be the kind of inspirational leaders we are today; that happened when we all got very clear about the kind of company we were building and the kind of leaders we needed to be to get us there. 

Difference between “working hard” and “doing hard work”

These two phrases are often interchangeable and you might not immediately know the difference. It is an important distinction to recognize as you look at the kind of work you are doing as a leader. 

Working hard simply means putting in the hours and completing the required tasks. It requires knowledge and hard skills and often includes long hours, to-do lists, research, and plenty of productivity. It produces the desired results and helps move the needle forward. 

On the other hand, doing hard work requires more soft skills and emotional intelligence. It means connecting with others in a way that leaves them touched, moved, and inspired to be more, do more, and have more in life. Hard work transforms human beings for the better and creates a healthy and productive company culture.  

Both are required to be successful in your career. Only working hard will ensure you are a great individual contributor, while working hard AND doing hard work will make you a great leader.

There are three distinct phases people who are committed to making a difference will go through as they discover themselves as a leader: 


We will explore Phase One in the second partof this series tomorrow!