Does Your Role Need You?
This morning I discovered that my friend Rob Hartmann writes a blog, and that made me very happy as I love all things Rob Hartmann. Rob and I went to college together and he’s an incredibly gifted musical theatre composer and all-around-insightful-guy and when I read his interview with one of my favorite actresses, Alison Fraser, something jumped out at me that I thought was very relevant to the authentic-leadership conversation, so I wanted to share.
Rob Hartmann: When you’re considering working on a new piece, what makes it stand out to you?
Alison Fraser: When I look at a script, I say, does this show need me? Does this show need my particular talents?
Far From Heaven, for instance – I did the Williamstown production, but they didn’t need me, and they knew they didn’t need me. And I kept trying – “Well, how can I make this me?” and it just didn’t work. And when I did not continue with the project, it was fine. They didn’t need me.
And if you don’t need me, Alison Fraser, then don’t put me in your show. Because if I’m not happy with something, chances are, I’ll say it. And chances are I’ll be right, and chances are you’ll be mad at me for being right (laughs).
What a powerful question to ask, “Does this show (or insert job, project, team, company) need me. (Do they) need my particular talents?” I think so often we try to squeeze ourselves into roles and projects that aren’t a good fit, that don’t need our individual talents, and the outcome is less than positive for all involved. There are things we can do – sure – but maybe just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. There are companies that will hire us, offer us projects, want us, but just because they want us, does that automatically mean we should say “yes”? And if we don’t get to bring our best selves – use our particular talents – are we really doing the company a favor by accepting?
Or maybe the question to ask yourself is more foundational. Maybe the question to be asking is, “What are my particular talents and who needs them the most?” For if we don’t know, how can we really put them to work in a way that will make a difference?
Yes, I understand that every job is going to require us to do things that aren’t exciting, that we may not always feel like doing but need to do – that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about does the work need you? For if it doesn’t, what impact can you really have?
Authentic leadership begins by getting real. What’s real?
We all have unique gifts to bring. Maybe one of the greatest things we can do in life is to find out who needs those gifts the most so we can do what we were put on this planet to do.
Hold on! Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you all quit your job or walk up to your boss inquiring whether or not you’re really needed. This is not what I’m saying, so don’t go and do anything rash. I am saying that you need to give this some very serious thought. Do you know what particular talents you bring? How do they make a difference? Are they making a difference? What can you do to use your talents in a way that will address the needs of the people and companies you have been hired to serve?
For jobs, projects, teams, and companies deserve more than someone just filling a gap. More than a warm body keeping busy. What they need is the right people in the right role bringing the talents that only they can bring. And we all have them. It’s our responsibility not to just say “yes” to whatever shows up – but to get real about what we bring – and then give it all we’ve got. Because if we can’t bring it, we’re not doing anyone a favor.
Least of all ourselves.