I was listening to NPR this morning, as I do every morning after dropping my kids at school. Normally, they are doing the market report when I’m in the car, but today, my timing was off and the show hosts were discussing how difficult it can be to predict the future of organizations with a former Intel futurist. As he described the role and how he handled it, at one point he referred to himself as the “grit” inside the organization that often had to tell other leaders what no one else would say.
I started thinking about how I behave inside organizations and ultimately, how you behave too. There are many times I’ve found myself being the grit in organizations. Grit, or being abrasive, is thought of as a negative. I don’t think it has to be a negative label though, it’s quite the opposite. Being seen as the grit should mean you’re a go-to person who will be honest and tell leadership where the gaps in thinking may be. In fact, it goes beyond that to being able to tell leaders which paths they should not be taking.
The key to being the “grit” in a positive way is finesse. One thing I’ve learned over the last twenty of my career is that being disruptive may be fun, but it does not make for the ability to bring change on a consistent basis. Since many people still enjoy working for one employer for a long period of time, understanding how to be influential without being completely abrasive is an art. Those are the leaders that actually drive change in organizations. I found a fascinating article on Forbes that details the 5 Characteristics of Grit. I encourage you to check it out to see which characteristics you have. Things like resilience, endurance, excellence, conscientiousness, and courage are all important in determining the level of grit you have.
So now that we’ve determined that grit can be a positive in the workplace, how can you tell if you’re style of grit is disruptive vs. influential?
DISRUPTIVE OR INFLUENTIAL?
- Do the C-Suite execs avoid you because you are constantly telling them to do things differently? Disruptive
- Are you the first person the executives call when they have an issue? Influential
- Have you tried, unsuccessfully, to “sell” the same idea to every executive and can’t get anyone on board? Disruptive
- Do you curse or swear a lot at work for no real reason? Disruptive
- Do people eventually come around to your ideas, even if they need a little time to digest the idea before embracing it? Influential
- Are you honest? Influential
- Brutally honest at all costs? Disruptive
Like most people, I want to change the world. I’m sure you do too. And while there are a few “disruptors” who make a name for themselves and get positive change in spite of their approach, most people prefer to be influenced. I learned early on that being influential is not about your job title. It’s all in your style and the way you bring other people over to your way of thinking. It’s also about being open to new ideas….even if it means discarding your own ideas.
So, which are you? I’d love to hear from you…