Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone telling you, “That’s not in my job description?” How did that make you feel?
From a job description perspective, they may have been right. From a career advancement perspective, they may have been dead wrong.
Job descriptions frame the duties, general responsibilities, expectations, education and experience deemed necessary for a position. These standards typically outline the expected requirements of any job and it is important that you meet these criteria in any organization.
While meeting job requirements is important, this level of contribution doesn’t often lead to career advancement. They are table stakes.
Career growth happens for those who demonstrate capabilities and behaviors showing they are ready for greater responsibility and opportunities.
A leader at one of my former employers challenged his organization to think two-levels up, and act accordingly. His challenge enabled many employees in his group to view things from perspectives beyond their normal duties. As opposed to being confined to boundaries within the positions they held, his challenge resulted in their thinking more broadly and strategically.
This encouragement enabled increased engagement from employees throughout his organization as their ideas were listened to and acted upon in many instances. Organizationally, it resulted in greater innovation and productivity. When employees outlined their two-level up ideas to their leaders, they were often told to proceed. Their approved actions many times culminated in better results within their work areas and across functional lines to more broadly improve the organization.
You may not work in an organization or for a leader that encourages this type of thinking and action. However, thinking and acting beyond boundaries is behavior that gets noticed and, with demonstrated success, leads to career advancement.
As a former HR executive, I’ve worked with leaders to identify team members within their organizations to be considered for promotions to new levels, to receive pay increases beyond the average merit award or to be recommended for project leadership or stretch assignments. Some of the phrases that leaders used to describe the employees they wanted to sponsor for promotions, recognition and project leadership roles included:
- Consistently performs above expectations
- Works across boundaries to get things done
- Demonstrates broader thinking and brings others along
- Takes on new assignments without hesitation
- Engages others and has excellent relationship skills
- Shows leadership potential
Employees that display these behaviors aren’t thinking about or being constrained by what’s in their job description. They take a broader view, share ideas with their managers and others, and take approved actions that have the organization’s goals and interests in mind.
Leaders take notice when improvements occur, goals are achieved, and progress takes place. Recognition, new opportunities and higher levels of responsibility often follow for the people making positive things happen.
The level of competition, disruption and change in business is greater today than in any time in history and is expected to accelerate going forward. This level of change requires agile thinking and action to stay competitive in turbulent times. People operating solely within their own boundaries or waiting for others to tell them what to do can often limit their own career security and growth.
Executive coaches work with many leaders and organizations to help them achieve desired results, deal effectively with change and create a more engaging workplace where employees want to use their best ideas and actions to benefit their employers and themselves.
Employees who work for leaders and enterprises that encourage ideas and actions that keep them competitive or in a leadership position aren’t worried about what’s in their job description. They are doing that and more while creating more compelling career opportunities than those waiting for someone to give them permission to think and act beyond their position.
How can executive coaching help you operate at higher levels and successfully achieve what’s next?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. Find out more about Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at oppnacoaching.com