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Why you shouldn't just do it

Why You Shouldn’t ‘Just Do It!’

Have you ever questioned your boss about a particular task, and at the end of a brief exchange, he simply says: “Look, just do it, OK?” 

I call these leaders “Nike bosses”, for obvious reasons. Although I’m sure no one sets out to become a Nike boss, sometimes it’s simply the product of a leader being overworked, or not having sufficient information about why something needs to be done, or not being able to convey the criticality of something based on logic and reason.

Often, it’s because you are making a good point that they can’t refute, but don’t want the hassle of having to talk to their boss about why it doesn’t make sense… because that would be difficult and time-consuming, and potentially create conflict. 

So, they pull rank, and you feel as though you’ve been put in your place.

Even though it’s not an ideal situation, Nike bosses can teach you an awful lot, and give you the environment to develop your own leadership skills. Skills like:

  • Being able to influence beyond your own portfolio
  • Being able to sit comfortably in conflict
  • Being able to communicate persuasively

This is where you’ll start to learn the art of being a trusted advisor, instead of a workhorse. Nike bosses and their people tend to be workhorses. They do whatever is asked of them, no matter how illogical, and no matter whether or not it delivers tangible value.

Bosses who don’t like to be challenged can be especially tricky. If they are insecure, as many senior leaders are, they simply don’t want to be challenged. They prefer to surround themselves with “yes people”.

I have a slight personality defect where, if I don’t think something is right, I’m not just going to let it slide… I’m trying to be a better person, but this is my default starting position. With maturity, I’ve learned to not die in a ditch over the little things.

So, I would never bullsh!t one of my bosses, no matter how senior, just because they were insecure, and didn’t want to be challenged. I saw my obligations to the company that was paying me to be far greater than that. 

But in one role, I was labeled as having behavioral issues, simply because I spoke out about the things that I could see going on that I knew weren’t right.

Nike bosses hate that sh!t! 

So, it definitely worked against me on more than one occasion. But this is when you have to ask yourself two really important questions:

  • What type of person do I want to be? 
  • And what type of person do I want to work for?

To me, that mattered. It mattered deeply. My bias was to be a trusted advisor, not a workhorse. And if I couldn’t be a trusted advisor for my boss, then it was the wrong boss, and I acted accordingly. I voted with my feet. 

Being a trusted advisor, shows that you’re likely to handle the rigors of the next level up. And that means you’re way less likely to be typecast in the role you’re currently in.

It takes a fair bit of courage to push back on your boss. And that’s why you have to earn their trust. You have to deliver on what you say you will and give your boss confidence that you’ll produce the goods, and that your judgment and guidance is sound.

Show them how not just reacting to every thought bubble from above is a good thing. Because that’s actually the secret sauce to producing superior results.

This will stop you from acquiescing to the only other obvious outcome: to absorb the pressure from your boss, and then push it down to your team. They deserve better, and you need to be better for them.

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