Adding Value, not heroics.

This is a short and sweet article this week.

Put out there as the very essence of being better at whatever work you do.

Nothing grand, nothing esoteric.

The very focus you need at work to have an impact, add value, create belonging and community, and be someone others want to work with.

An article for those:

  • New to their careers (to focus not only on ‘tasks’ but also, on going about things the right way)
  • Building careers and working lives with fire in the belly!
  • At a crossroads – between jobs, in the wrong spot, or seeking something different
  • Who are just having a bit of a moment – where they’re reflective, unsure, ticked off, perhaps unhappy

What is the secret?

Wherever you are, the secret to doing better work is focusing on adding value to the person across from you. That is all.

It doesn’t matter if it’s sales, marketing, the biggest investment deal in the world, or the most memorable ice cream with your kids on school holidays. Even when you are literally saving a life (think critical health events), you’re adding value to a team of pros to do that – your work is rarely isolated heroism.

So, being better at work in every setting we can think of is not about being a hero to save or rescue someone in isolation, or to lift someone else from mediocrity or some other trite action.

It is about seeing someone, listening to them, hearing them, working consciously to understand them, and then doing something that adds value for them (yes, even if they don’t ask, especially if they don’t ask!).

That’s it.

Common sense

It might seem obvious but it’s like the old adage, common sense is not so common. And we suspect in the grind of the every day this can be lost in the minutia, or noise, or clutter. But all you have are the moments in front of you, and all you can do is add value to someone else in that moment.

Yes – we need strategies, plans, dreams. But we only hold a little bit of water in the palm of our hands. That’s the second to add value to another.

If the metaphors of heroes (and maybe villains!) and water were too much, let’s just say it differently.

No one likes to work with people who sling mud at others to make themselves look better, or their work look inherently more valuable.

That is corporate heroism right there.

Be part of the solution

The corporate hero narrative is that everything is stuffed, and conveniently, enter stage right, the person throwing the mud is also the hero able to fix it all.

Unsurprisingly, the mudslinger is rarely capable of the heroism needed (and they haven’t done anything wonderous making people want to work with them either). So, the hero has inevitably made ‘defeating the villain’ impossible.

Now, we are not saying you can’t raise risks or concerns or speak up about things. Of course, these are necessary, but, if you do, you’ve got to add value and be part of fixing it. Raise it, sure, but also be part of owning the path forward, part of the solution.

Great people have a positive impact

It’s how we came to this game-changing revelation that’s perhaps cooler. It comes through the world of work, by meeting many people across industries and jobs, and physical and virtual places that show us a universality to this very pattern.

In the last 7 business days we’ve:

  • Visited an amazing business of contract manufacturers making some awesome cars with some banter along the way!
  • Visited a realtor growing a beautiful business in a semi-regional corridor
  • Met the CEO of a bank – known for his leadership of people with integrity
  • Met a set of impact investors and venture capitalists focused on fostering the next wave of Australian pioneers
  • Drank a glass of wine with one of the best humans, editors, writers and now publicans in the country
  • Reconnected with a developer of talent who has traversed banks, mines and now a technology business

We write that, and ultimately are incredibly grateful to be doing fun work, having the positive impact we can to people, organisations, communities and culture.

And in using our Culture Dashboard, speaking with people, and observing how they connect, how they work, and how they are building legacies, we see the reality over and over again.

The secret to doing better work is all about shifting your mindset from heroics to adding value. You need to be nothing more than genuine, well-intended, open and ready to create value for other humans that share the same planet.

For more on the hero syndrome have a look at this article.