Let me lay this out nice and simple for you all: it’s not companies, or products, or services that make us go to work.
It’s people. To be more specific, it’s the leader you work for.
I came to this realization when I looked back on my own career. I looked at why I stayed in certain jobs for too long. I looked at why I gave a damn about finance when in my head I hated it.
The answer came to me late one night as I was trying to think about how to get myself out of this crappy career situation I’d found myself in where I literally didn’t give a fuck about business anymore.
Then it hit me: I’m following a leader I love.
It’s not the company.
The company doesn’t make you love your work, sorry.
No video on company culture or fancy office with stand up desks and indoor plants is going to change that. A company is a legal entity which revolves around a group of people who all work together towards a common goal that makes money.
None of us will be inspired by this incredibly dry thing called ‘a company’
A company is a figment of our imagination. Some people in the company rock. Some people in the company suck.
And that applies to all companies including Google, DropBox and any other company you think is sexy because of its uber cool culture and work from home days.
Working for a leader you love.
Why the hell would you bother?
It’s because it’s in our human nature to be led by someone who touches the deepest, darkest places that we don’t want to go to but must in order to survive.
Those dark places look like:
- Leading a team of people
- Doing public speaking
- Admitting you’re wrong in a major argument
- Quitting your career because it’s wrong
- And even breaking up with a lover
These are the things a leader made me do. I didn’t want to do any of it although I had to.
This made me want to come to work every day and work for this leader because in the work I was doing, I was discovering myself and finding a way to grow into the person I’d avoided becoming for so long.
No one wants to face the darkness, but when a leader guides you, you’ll find a way and be forever grateful that you did.
From one company to the next.
You see many people go from one company to the next. They’re not chasing the idea of a company or trying to find a better company.
“We go from one company to the next because in most cases we’re chasing a leader”
Finding that leader you love working for is not easy. You’ll have to work for many useless leaders before you find a couple that are worth dedicating your entire career to.
The process of finding a leader you love working for is so difficult that once your search ends and you find those rare individuals, your standards will be forever raised and anything less will piss you off.
In my own career, I’ve met 1–2 amazing leaders and every other leader that is not them ends up making me want to move on.
Not finding a leader I love.
I end up moving on because the leaders I don’t love working for focus on the following: numbers, email signatures, the share price, managing people into the ground in favor of ‘productivity’ and overcomplicating business.
That last one is the most important. Business revolves around understanding how people think, what motivates them and how to get them to take ownership.
“To put the people part to one side is to completely screw up the most simplest idea that has ever existed in the business world”
The process goes like this:
- Hire one good leader
- Support that leader
- Allow them to hire incredible human beings
- Stay the heck out of their way
Hiring the right leader and then letting them hire people who love working for them is the number one consistent approach I’ve seen from looking at many of the unicorn tech companies that have gone on to define the future of the human race.
It’s this counter-intuitive, somewhat magical approach that makes us stay working for a leader we love. Until, of course, we may not need to work or decide to go off and start our own thing.
The leader makes it all worth it.
So from this day forth, I’m committed to only working for a leader I love. If you mess that part up, you’ll probably find me saying goodbye.
I’d encourage you to think the same way.
The leader you work for makes it all worth it. It’s knowing someone has your back, someone cares and someone is simultaneously going to push you to the next level whether you like it or not that will not only define your career but your life.
Don’t. Settle. Ever.
Find a leader you love working for.