Creative team members are often chosen to function within their area of speciality. Ask some artists to function as a proof reader, for example, and you not only face a cautionary stare, but also receive a finished product with all manner of punctuation woes. Team leaders should know the skill set of each member and organize to their strengths. We have all been on teams made up of great people, but some in mismatched roles—no fun for them, not great for the end product. We cannot blame the artist for this, the responsibility rests upon the leader.
In stark contrast are team members (or leaders) who either refuse to learn something new or unjustly balk at taking on an unfamiliar task. Some just need reassurance and a little prodding, others quickly reveal “diva status.” They utter phrases like “it’s not my job” or “I only do the fun stuff”and often side-step meaningful dialog and possible solutions.
Sure, there is a fine line between allowing yourself to be taken advantage of and voluntarily taking on a new role or task. We have all watched people who refuse the “heavy-lifting” get the promotion or the raise. They give advice along the lines of: “Well, I don’t do ‘xyz” and if you don’t learn ‘xyz’ then they can’t expect you to do it. I have assistants for that now.” I can’t explain why some ascend through a company’s ranks based solely on who they know or talking a good game. It is unfair, but it is also not my concern.
What I do know is this—some of my greatest opportunities and learning experiences came from refusing to take the easy way out and refusing to say, “it’s not my job.” Nothing good has ever come from thinking I was above tackling “xyz” for myself or on behalf of my team. Have I been taken advantage of on occasion? Yes. Is it worth the risk? Yes.
The truth—for any project to succeed someone always has to take on the challenge, answer the hard questions and work for the common good. Truly brilliant ideas, novel creations and new strategies are not the result of waxing eloquent at company socials, but of having guts and taking risks to act, to implement real solutions. Good leaders face all the bumps, bruises and failures that might result. When failure comes, they look it in the eye and refuse to hide it or run from it. Instead they dissect the failure, learn and do better next time.
For the daring and diligent there is always a next time and a new opportunity around the bend—that is the power of shunning excuses.