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Are You the Workhorse?

© Olivier Tuffé -

© Olivier Tuffé –

Grind, labor, plod, serve, drudge, slave, toil. A workhorse is a machine that performs dependably under heavy use.

Many of my clients got where they are because they were workhorses. Now as middle managers, they need to lead through others. Their old style of performing dependably under heavy use does not get them the results their organizations need.

They are not able to be strategic, plan or build key relationships, or think about the organization’s future. Why? Because they are still toiling, grinding and plodding through the work.

There are two issues workhorse managers must deal with:

  1. Get control of your time by developing your team and delegating to them. That way you can get to work on higher value projects and thinking.

  2. Learn to be a show horse, not a workhorse. How do you think your peers get funding and resources that you don’t? It is because they have learned to highlight their good work instead of quietly toiling, plodding, and laboring. Get comfortable showing your work and bringing attention to your team’s results under your leadership.

Does that mean that you have to brag to get noticed? It is not bragging to bring attention to your accomplishments. Your boss is busy with his/her own issues, and if you don’t make yourself known, someone else will gladly populate your boss’s mind with the things they are contributing.

A plant manager I coach had not been telling her boss about her great contributions over the past two years. Because they were very different personalities, neither of them felt comfortable talking to the other one, so they mostly avoided each other.

The plant manager had almost decided to quit until one day got up the courage to approach her boss with a list of the things she has accomplished and ask the boss for a raise. She did it in a way that highlighted specific benefits she provided to finance, engineering, operations and customers. Her boss was amazed seeing this list, and two weeks later gave her the raise as well as a promotion.

Have you ever felt like a workhorse, quietly toiling away behind the scenes? Is it time to let people know the work you are doing, the problems you have solved, the team you have built, and the great results you have led?

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