When you meet someone for the first time, one of the most common topics that is brought up is what you do for work.
It’s a relatively easy and natural question. It’s not invasive, and people are usually open and happy to talk about themselves and what they do every day.
I enjoy this topic a lot. Whenever I’m getting to know someone and I ask about their career and what they do for work, I am always sincerely interested. I’m interested in what people do, but I’m also interested in hearing how people answer the question.
When you ask someone what they do for work, most people respond with their title and the company they work for. It’s a pretty standard response.
But every once in a while, when you ask that question, someone will respond with a unique answer that stands out and is nothing like anything you’ve ever heard. Those are always the best. Let me tell you what I usually say.
I tell people that I work for a great company and that my job is simple. I’m responsible for creating an environment where people have the tools, resources and support they need to maximize their potential, grow professionally and progress in their career.
That pretty much sums up the job of anyone in a leadership role that manages people. It’s actually pretty simple.
But there is one other critical responsibility you have if you are managing a team and responsible for helping people succeed. It’s something that is often overlooked and rarely discussed.
In my opinion, it’s the single, most important responsibility leaders have. Your job is to remove distractions that slow people down or take their focus away from their primary job responsibilities.
Removing distractions is something I think most leaders forget about. They may do it without thinking about, but I have found that most don’t think about it from that perspective.
Distractions are everywhere. It could be a process. It could be a “sacred cow” or a way of doing things that nobody has the courage to challenge.
It could be a person on your team who is going against the grain and causing you and others on your team to deal with unnecessary stress and drama. It could be an antiquated piece of technology. There is a long list of distractions that are present in all aspects of business.
All of this may sound like the most basic piece of advice, but it’s something I truly believe needs more discussion and awareness.
There are simply too many distractions all around us that stop people, teams and companies from accomplishing great things.
I will leave you with this. Think about your job. Think about the team you work on or are responsible for leading. Think about your company.
Now think about your goals and what you are ultimately trying to accomplish.
Then, look around at all of the activities, processes, tasks and people that stop you and everyone around you from achieving those goals. I can promise, if you look closely, the list will be long.
The most important thing any leader can do is identify the distractions and have the courage to call them out and eliminate them.
If this happens, it’s almost certain progress will be made and great things will come.
It may be business basics, but it’s rare to see someone actually do it.