When the majority of your work time is spent tackling the problems you enjoy most, you’re “one of the lucky ones” who loves their work. The opposite is also true.
My experience as an exec, and coaching other leaders, boils down to this: your role needs to align with your soul.
It’s not just a luxury to know if you, your people, or someone you may hire has the soul of a starter, builder, fixer, or runner. To be at our best, and do our best work consistently, it’s a necessity. For example, if you’re a Starter in a Fixer’s job, there’s a problem. Not that you can’t do it – particularly if a need arises, but your energy expenditure is going to be astronomical, and over time the toll will be great.
Keep in mind, as you take a look at the following four problem sets that there is plenty of overlap at certain times, and that offers variety, but just as you have a preference, the needs of any role has one too.
As you read them, consider: Which one is the most “you” at this point in your life? Which of the challenges give you your biggest thrill, or sense of fulfillment? Which one would you like to spend the majority of your time doing? Are you?
1. The “Starter” loves the challenges of the blank whiteboard. S/he sees it as an invitation to innovation, invention or creation, and will take the steps needed to turn that clear vision into action. They have the soul of an entrepreneur/ instigator and the energy and skills to go with it. Once it’s off the ground, interest tends to move on to the next big idea.
2. The “Builder” loves the challenges of growing something bigger. S/he will be at, err, peace when the dials of volumes, sales or other growth metrics are spinning up. They love applying cleverness and skill to balancing resources versus constraints versus high demand, and are happiest when that results in the “great to have” problems of significant growth. Over time, as the growth line inevitably begins to flatten, the Builder will be ready for a change.
3. The “Fixer” loves the challenges of something or someone in need, and the promise of making a big difference. S/he wants to get into gnarly issues – the tougher the better. They believe in their ability to instigate change, even when others see a wall or puzzle of human or organizational nature. They are happiest when applying their smarts and skills to make a big impact that leads to lasting change. Once done with the remarkable feat, it’s time for the next new challenge.
4.The ”Runner” loves the challenges of the long game. S/he enjoys ongoing responsibility through thick and thin, ever keeping a steady hand on the tiller. They are less likely to want to change things significantly over a short period of time, but want to make more subtle adjustments that keep things on track. They see the long haul responsibility not as a burden, but as a blessing.
Not only is it critical for a leader or executive to know themselves, but it’s also important to understand your team, and anyone you may hire. After all, imagine letting an interview candidate pick just one, as the thing they most enjoy doing the majority of time.
If you spend just a bit of time reflecting on this, and how it fits (or doesn't fit) with your current role, or the one you may be seeking, you’re going to make better choices. It’s inevitable.