There is a Difference Between Your Role, and Your Job Title.

They are the four most dreaded words to hear when you need help: “It’s not my job.

Guess what? It just might be your job.

Maybe it’s the intersection of speaking this past weekend to 12 bright women enrolled in my colleague and friend Stacy Blake-Beard’s leadership and gender B-school class at Mills College or an upcoming call with Shereef Bishay (TedSF: Applying Open Source Principles to the Work Place here) but one thought came to mind when I heard those words.

Your role is to get things done.

It might not be your job title and it might not be what any business card you carry says.

But if you want your (pick one) company, organization, church, team, etc. to survive if not thrive, focusing on getting things done rather than what’s inside your own “job box” is the most important thing you can do.

I know. You’re working for one of those (pick one) companies, organizations, churches, teams, etc. that tell you to do (only) your job and let other people worry and take care of the other stuff.

Start finding someplace else to work.

There’s a ticking meter on your workplace and it’s in countdown mode. Like Bob Sutton’s post detailing how United Airlines lost a 10-year old girl – and didn’t seem to care  - places where people work in highly defined boxes called jobs and don’t care or want to venture outside that proverbial box are goners. Indifference is decay, and indifference is death in a free market.

So here’s a new four letter phrase to use the next time someone asks you for assistance: “How can I help?”

Even if it’s not your job.

Guest author J. Mike Smith is a executive, career, and leadership team coach, helping individuals, start-ups, teams and groups perform significantly better.


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