Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge, 2 Ed.

Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge, 2 Ed.

by Geoffrey M. Bellman

Paperback(Second Edition)

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You are not in charge and you want to make a difference: that is the dilemma. You may not know who is in charge in today's changing, temporary, and virtual organizations, but you know you are not! You are searching for ways to contribute through the work you do and gain some personal satisfaction in the process. This book can help you do just that.

In this new edition of his classic book, Geoff Bellman shows readers how to make things happen in any organization regardless of their formal position. The new edition has been written for a wider audience, including people in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, paid and volunteer workers, managers and individual contributors, contract and freelance workers. More than seventy percent of the material is brand new, including new examples, new chapters, new exercises, and much more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781576751725
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 01/28/2001
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 220
Sales rank: 888,562
Product dimensions: 6.06(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Geoffrey M. Bellman is the founder of the consulting firm, GMB Associates, Ltd.He is also the author of four previous books, including The Consultant’s Calling, The Beauty of the Beast, and Your Signature Path.

Read an Excerpt

You Are Not In Charge

We succeed by helping others succeed; our accomplishment is dependent on theirs. In our more expansive moments, we might say that we make them successful. In their more generous moments, they might say that they couldn’t do it without us. We are often in-between, wondering how best to contribute and how much difference we make. Some of us get trapped “on hold,” waiting for the authority, waiting for others to tell us what to do. That does not work.

Our only chance for contributing is to quit waiting and wondering and do something. We serve ourselves and others best when we do not wait. Initiate, with the organization and all involved people in mind. No, we are not in charge but we can act. No, we are not formally designated leaders, but we can lead. This book will help you think of yourself as a leader, as someone who helps an organization, its people, and resources move in new directions. Yes, right from where you are, not waiting until you’ve moved into a more powerful position. Whether you are an individual contributor, a middle manager, a school principal, or a precinct chair, there is much you can do from your position right there in the middle of things. Whether you are an entering programmer, a journeyman mechanic, a PTA parent, or a social worker, you can choose to lead others. And, the first step in leading others at work is leading your own life.


The Illusion: Someone Is in Charge

Many of us grew up with the expectation that someone will watch over us, take care of us, be “in charge,” “know best,” and that this will turn out okay. Our families, schools, communities, and organizations taught us to believe this, but their teachings began to fray pretty early, usually before we became adults. Our contradictory experience confused us; we saw people “in charge” producing very mixed results. The people in position to “do what’s best” disappointed us. Programs they created, decisions they made, did not turn out okay—at least not for us and what we wanted out of our lives. We discovered that they would not watch over us. An extremely hard part of this learning is not our disappointment in them but our struggles with our own responsibility: If they are not in charge, who is? If I cannot count on them, who can I count on? What is my responsibility in helping my family, my community, my employer, or this world? What can I, what will I, do with my life? These are the big questions lurking behind the work questions we struggle with daily.

You may be thinking, “But someday I will be in charge of that committee (or agency or division or team) and I will change things!” Well, think again. That’s akin to getting married with the plan to start changing your spouse immediately after the ceremony. My research says that does not work very well. I have often heard executives lament about their difficulties in getting things done. When the president of a telecommunications company (with 23,000 employees across five states and nine hierarchical levels) first saw this book, he said “Finally, a book written for me!” His employees may not see him as not in charge, but he frequently feels that way. He knows the limitations of authority. It is too easy for us to attribute power to a position that we have yet to hold, or that others hold, and to diminish the power we currently have. This book works with the powers we now hold.

The Life Game

For a few minutes, imagine your life as a game with rules and goals, roles and scores. Life is much more complicated than a game, but tem- porarily imagine playing Life as you might play bridge, or Myst™, or soccer. Within this game called Life, you decide its purposes and rules. You decide the roles you will play; you decide what earns points; you keep score. Actions that move you toward your life goals earn points. Actions that move you away from your life goals lose points. You create the game of Life as you play it; you can change the rules. Unpredictable, uncontrollable, unreasonable outside forces influence Life. You are in the middle of Life now; you are playing.

That is how life works when seen through the simpler game metaphor. It is the largest of the many games we play: games like School, Parent, Politics, Citizen, Child, and Work. In this book, most of our attention will be directed at the game of Work as a subset of the game of Life—and the challenge of playing the two games while keeping Work subordinate to Life. Often, other people decide the explicit rules and goals for Work before you arrive. And you have implicitly decided the rules and goals of Life before you arrive to “play” Work. The challenge is engaging deeply with both games, and keeping Work within the larger context of Life. Five guides shape this book:

Create your life game. The secret of getting things done when you are not in charge is to establish a life larger than work, in which you are more in charge than at work. Without this larger, more important life game, you will end up playing by the rules of the work game, or reacting against them with no clear sense of purpose.

Learn the work game. There is a work game where you work. It has its own rules and roles, goals and penalties—whether you are aware of it or not. There are ways for people to succeed. Certain behaviors are respected; others are disparaged. Learn this. It is not a matter of liking but of understanding how this work game works.

Know your position in the work game. This allows you to know where you are starting from. Again, it does not mean that you like it, but that you understand what comes with the position you have. The best starting point for changing your position, or the work game, is to know what you are starting with. Of course, if you hate your position, you should not be playing here. Which leads to. . .

Recognize there are other work games. There are other places in this world of work where you could be offering your talents. All of those other places have work games of their own. Choose the work game you play, always honoring your larger life game. If your life game is not being served by this work game, then go play somewhere else. Your ultimate power in the work game comes from choosing to play here, and knowing you make that choice daily.

Play well and hard at both Work and Life. Concentrate. Keep reminding yourself of what is important. Know your skills and your aspirations.
The most useful ideas in this book link back to this Life and Work game metaphor. Life direction is your source of power; options open when you see your work as a vital part of your life. Creating your life game is difficult; you are the game designer, rulemaker, player, coach, referee, scorekeeper, cheerleader, and spectator. Little wonder that we often opt to play others’ games, winning and losing under rules they have made. Others can help us figure out Life, but no one else can play Life for us. A pattern of playing others’ games usually calls us back to our own life game: What do we want to do with this life? And how might our work support that?

Table of Contents

What This New Edition Is About / Why I Wrote This Book / Who Is This Book For / How To Read This Book / Acknowledgments

Introduction: You Are Not In Charge

The Illusion: Someone Is In Charge / The Life Game

Chapter 1: A Model For Getting Things Done
An Exercise: Drawing Your Life / What To Read Next

Chapter 2: “Why Is That Important?”
An Exercise: What Is Important

Chapter 3: Pursuing Your Aspirations
Know What You Want / Know Why You Want What You Want / Wants Are Linked to Life Purpose / Figure Out What You Want Before Talking About It / Each Day Remind Yourself of What Is Important / Alignment of Wants Builds Power / Lead Your Own Life / Immediate Fulfillment Requires Immediate Action / Distant Fulfillment Requires Persistence / Know How You Want To Work With Others

Chapter 4: Discovering Dreams
Wants Always Exist / Express The Dream / Discover What They Want That You Want / Build Commitment To Wants / Reinvent The Wheel / Help Them Know That You Know / Collaboration and Negotiation: Your Best Options / Competition and Avoidance: Not Your Best Options

Chapter 5: What Is Really Happening?
Five Steps To Discovering Reality / An Exercise: Organizational Reality / Love of the Bumps

Chapter 6: Build Common Understanding
Help Others Find and Face the Truth / The Organizational Village / Building Understanding In Organizations

Chapter 7: Face The Politics
Politics Are Real and Inescapable / My Kind of Politics / Your Mix of Politics and Values / Building a Positive Political Climate / Working Through Negative Political Situations

Chapter 8: Seek The Priorities
Follow the Money / Trace the Time / Find Your Power / An Exercise: Building Formal Power

Chapter 9: Who Makes A Difference?
An Exercise: Successful Work Relationships / Help Those Whom You Would Have Help You / Respect the Past / Deal Openly / Create Your Relationship Web

Chapter 10: Enlist Able Partners
The Parts In Partnership / Anticipating Success / Contracts and Contracting / Your Unique Value-Added Contribution / Partnership Begins With You / Build a Pattern of Accomplishments / Pass the Word on Your Success / Expect Less Appreciation / Accept Others’ Lack of Knowledge / Ask About What They Care About / Risk Seeing It Their Way / Say Yes . . . And Say No / Long-Term Partnerships / Summary

Chapter 11: Controlling Work Dynamics
A Model For Working With You / Our Need To Control

Chapter 12: Dealing With Decision Makers
Show and Earn Respect / An Exercise: Building Respect / They Don’t Understand Your Work / Understand Their Purpose and Viewpoint / Do Not Wait: Initiate! / Link Your Work To Key Systems / Seek Reviews of Your Work / Find Ways To Offer Feedback / Summary

Chapter 13: How Might You Help?
An Exercise: Self Discovery / I vs. They / Out There vs. In Here / Learning The Truth About Yourself / Knowledge of Your Self

Chapter 14: Find The Courage to Risk
The Risks of Stepping Forward / Putting Fears In Perspective / Three Exercises: Building Your Courage / Summary

Chapter 15: Making Your Work Rewarding
Reaction and Reward / The Rewards of Membership / Making Your Work Rewarding / Praise Fixation Breeds Dependence / An Exercise: Rewards From Your Work

Chapter 16: Create Change
Stability Meets Instability / The Need For Change Must Be Compelling / Leading Change Is Demanding / Change Is Rooted In Respect / Help Others Hear Your Ideas / Resistance Reveals Power / Perseverance Required / Ideas Must Find Their Time / The Dangers of Rapid Change / Change In Changing Organizations / Succeed On Their Terms As Well As Your Own / Expect The Change To Allow You To Be Yourself

Chapter 17: Actions That Get Things Done
Twenty Actions To Get Things Done / Building on and Beyond This Book

Conclusion: A Life Perspective On Leading Change
About the Author

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