Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

When heads are down, focused on getting things done, people can get stuck. Looking around, they often find that they are surrounded by people who are just as stuck as they are, so progress slows to a crawl. 

That’s because one of the first questions we are taught to ask at work is: “What’s required here?” By meeting the spec, we get evaluated as being diligent, reliable and loyal. 

But then, someone sees a different way forward, a path not previously explored. A few others recognize the potential and join in the quest, becoming a bonded team that wants to share the journey, moving exactly where they want to go. The result is a breakthrough. 

Breakthroughs are driven by those who seek to make a difference, to do work that matters. They ask: “What’s the opportunity here?” For them, it’s about contribution and forward progress, not simply compliance. It’s a more challenging route, but for them and for the business, it’s worth it. 

All workplaces include those who seek to protect their status quo, while others search for ways around obstacles, recognizing that these limitations are not real. Some people prefer to check boxes while others seek to draw the boxes.

Leaders rely on these progress advocates for innovation and improvement, for driving productive change. And they succeed in creating value by leveraging the inherent motivation of these promoters -providing opportunities to contribute, channels in which to operate and encouragement that supports their initiative. These are the elements of breakthroughs. 

How do you encourage breakthroughs?

How do you identify your breakthrough advocates?