3 Steps to Thrive at Work
Not feeling the best at work right now? Doubting yourself as a leader? Not feeling quite motivated and not sure why? And on top of that, frustrated at yourself for not being able to figure it out?
Don't beat yourself up. To be the best leader for your team and your organization, first be a leader to yourself. So, take a pause, answer these questions to figure out what's going on, and proactively take action towards your best.
1. What's most important to you? What drives you to do your best, fulfilling work?
If you're having trouble identifying this, try this exercise:
WOW experiences: Think of the top 3 accomplishments that you are most proud of in your career. What about them makes you most proud? What energizes and excites you about these? What about these accomplishments brings out the best in you? Why are those important and meaningful to you?
Make a list: What are the common themes as you reflect on the 3 accomplishments above?
Pick pick pick: Once you have these themes, prioritize them in order of importance. This isn't easy, but it will help you focus on what is most important, and potentially identify conflicting priorities.
After this exercise: you should now have 3-5 themes of what you need to be at your best. What do these themes tell you? Are they familiar to you, or are some surprising to you?
2: How do these essential drivers play out in your current role?
When and how often does your work meet your essential drivers? How do they show up in your daily work?
If you are a data geek like me, you can even score this: For each driver, use a the scale of 0-10 (0 being "non-existent" to 10 being "YES this is great!") on how you feel this shows up in your work. At the same time, what's the score you want to be at?
After this exercise: you should now have a clear idea of how your current work maps to what you need in order to lead at your best. What does your scoring tell you? What gaps appear?
3. What actions can you take to close any gaps you identified?
In all likelihood, there are gaps between where things are and where you want to be. So now the question is: what do you want to do about it? These usually fall into 2 buckets:
Small, immediate shifts
Don't hand in your resignation letter just yet. Take each essential driver, and think about specific actions you can take while in your current work to move towards where you'd like it to be. Your actions will vary, but may include:
talking to your direct manager (e.g. if you are seeking out complex, cross-team projects, if you need to shift your focus on different areas)
engaging your team leaders in key decisions (e.g. if you want to drive empowerment and collaboration)
learning from other leaders about your area of interest (e.g. if you want greater visibility into high-impact areas)
participating in a webinar that addresses one of your essential drivers (e.g. if you want to learn and grow in new areas)
Larger, thoughtful pivots
As you're managing in the present, you would also want to design towards the future. If there are things in your current work that are not in your immediate control to change, or if you are realizing that your current work will not have the potential of fulfilling your essential drivers, then you'd want to start laying the foundation for the next step.
start sharing your essential drivers with your trusted friends or colleagues, and open up dialogues on what roles, or industries, or new areas may be a good fit
take on new projects (or find volunteer opportunities) that may fit one or more of your essential drivers and test drive it
if you have a clear idea or direction already, identify contacts who are in those areas and conduct information interviews to better understand the roles
At the end of the day, this isn't about immediately quitting your job, or suddenly searching for new opportunities. It is about identifying and honoring what is important to you to be your best, and thoughtfully crafting work that you love and thrive in. In doing so, you are leading yourself in the best way, so that you can better serve and lead your team, and your organization.