Your job does not exist to fulfill your commitments and concerns.

When many young people first enter the work-force, they take a job that meets certain personal criteria:

  • pays a decent salary so they can pay back student loans and bills and still have money to go out on Friday night
  • allows a certain level of autonomy and flexibility
  • will develop skills, competencies, and capabilities that will allow them to get a better job in the not-too-distant future

While this relatively immature world view may be appropriate at a junior level, if an individual is committed to growing into a leader in any organization, they must ultimately supplant their wants and wishes with the commitments and concerns of the organization.

All of us have our own personal commitments and concerns.  Commitments are things that you are dedicated or attentive to.  For example, this might be a commitment to make a difference or a commitment to people being fully self-expressed in their work.  A concern is that which is top of mind or of utmost importance.  An example is a concern for my health and well-being, or concern for feeling valued.  A junior set of commitments and concerns are usually focused on ourselves.  In this state, we give our time and attention to our commitments and concerns and put ourselves in situations (and jobs) that help forward or fulfill those self-interests.

Along the journey to real leadership, at some point, one needs to take their focus off of their personal commitments and concerns and put them on those of the organization they are leading.  Make no mistake – your job, like any job – only exists because it helps fulfill the commitments and concerns of the organization. At some point in the future, should the organization no longer have those areas of focus, the job would no longer be needed either. Obviously, the opposite is also accurate – as organizations take on new commitments and concerns, new roles are created to fulfill them.  For example, as innovation and creativity became more important to many companies, the role of Chief Innovation Officer was created.  When companies took on a focused commitment to increased diversity, roles to actively work on diversity and inclusion were born.

So, while it may seem cold-hearted to think this way, it is no less accurate to come to terms with the fact that your organization is not focused on your commitments and concerns.  So, now what?

In the best of circumstances, one seeks out an organization, and a role in that organization, in which working on fulfilling the greater commitments and concerns their individual commitments and concerns get satisfied in the process.  For example, working for a company that has a commitment to enhancing the quality of people’s lives through superb health care also handles one’s commitment to people living their best lives.  Working towards something bigger than oneself is part of the true joy of leadership.

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