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Nothing Happened

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

Years ago, I quit my job at a large engineering firm. About a year after leaving, I got a call from my old boss asking me to come back. He questioned why I left and asked if something had happened. I told him no, and then he said, “If nothing happened, why don’t you come back?”

But that was precisely the point. Nothing happened in the job.

I know this story has played out more times than we can ever count. We leave organizations not because something happened, but because nothing happened.

Our job as leaders is to make things happen. To be present in our employees’ lives. To make sure they are growing every day and becoming their best selves.

The challenge with this is we think about ourselves. We believe if we make our numbers and our bosses are happy with us, then we did our job as leaders. But that isn’t true.

Our success should not just be measured in numbers, but rather in how many of our people got promoted, how many of them moved up and are doing the jobs they are meant to do. Successful leaders should be judged on the legacy they leave and the success of the people in their care.

If you wonder if you are a good leader, don’t look at yourself. Look at the people who work for you. Ask yourself what you are doing for them, not what they are doing for you.

When I hear about great leadership stories, at the heart of them is what the leaders did for their people. Stories of how they tapped into their team’s potential and helped them discover greatness.

"Bosses" make their teams do things they want them to do. They can give orders and commands, but great leaders know that is not leadership. Great leaders do the opposite. Like Captain Marquette said in his book, Turn the Ship Around, bosses give orders; great leaders give intent.

What are you doing to challenge your team to be better? What are you doing to help your people be the best they can be? Because ultimately, people leave organizations not because something happens, but because nothing happens.

Until next time…we are Advoco, make every minute count.


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