Quit Whining and Do Your Job

By: Cindy Wahler

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It is human nature to externalise work place challenges. We can easily find lots to complain about; every organization has obstacles.

I was recently at a leadership seminar for one of my clients. It was interesting to observe the composition of diverse leaders. Presentations were made offering solutions to significant challenges. What was intriguing is that these challenges - insufficient resources, risk averse culture, lack of talent, multiple sign offs - are not unique to this particular organization, but common amongst many.

A substantial amount of static is created by employees complaining about how their organizations do not foster or encourage ownership. Deflecting responsibility is easy. Many employees excel at this. Sometimes employees fail to realize that a key component of their role is to push the status quo and challenge old paradigms.

Entrepreneurship is equated with creativity, agility and an investment in building a network of viral carriers. Even though thought disruptors represent a small percentage of the employee population, they do find a way to forge a new path. And what is so intriguing is that these disruptors do this time and time again, even with very different sets of variables.

A very accomplished and highly successful leader who I tremendously admire has it right. When reflecting upon his career he said he saw it as his responsibility and no one else's to challenge roadblocks, to be a contrarian and find solutions. He is bang on right. The same or similar roadblocks he faced in his career were surmountable then, and are surmountable now.

Whiners are victims of imaginary circumstances. Creative self starters beat out passive complainers each and every time. They don't take no for answer, they leverage smart talent, align themselves with key decision makers and create a forum for change. Complaining is not only a waste of energy; it also sets you apart as a negative force that attracts other naysayers.

Doing your job requires you to create the future. Savvy leaders know how to create solutions and are masters at syndication. If you define yourself as aspirational then it is incumbent upon you to propose a way forward. Suggesting that an organization's challenge is somebody else's solution does message a few things about your own leadership. These messages are not positive. What you may be conveying is a lack of initiative and an inability to marshal the right resources.

Your mandate is more than fulfilling your job description. Destined leaders who make their mark would never accept an invitation to the latest pity party. Instead they drive forward. Direct reports seek leadership from their managers. Leaders must role model ownership.

Great leaders never let perfection stand in the way of good. In other words, inactivity at either end of the spectrum, such as crying the blues or striving for perfection, will guarantee that greatness will pass you by. Those who whine attract crybabies. Star players view doing their job as a vehicle for change.

Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specializing in succession planning and talent management. She can be contacted at cwahler@cindywahler.com