The military classifies some missiles as “fire and forget” because they don’t need to be monitored after they are fired. Great leaders are like this — their boss can give them an objective and know they don’t need to follow up over and over to ensure success.
This concept is incredibly important in your career as take on more and more responsibility. Junior team members are expected to work hard and be guided by leaders to support the team. However, there is an inflection point where the the value people add to the organization separates based on those who work hard and those who will ensure success. It’s great to be someone who works hard to support the team, but it’s a whole different level of value to an organization when someone can be trusted to accomplish an objective without needing oversight. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in with your boss, or ask for advice or mentorship, or request in-progress reviews (IPRs) or other meetings to touch base — it means that your boss sees you as a person they can “fire and forget”:
This type of high-value leader doesn’t wait for someone to check on them if they have questions or obstacles (they analyze and solve them, or they ask for help, or they bring recommendations to someone for validation)
Business Insider wrote a post several years ago about a related quote by Steve Jobs: Steve jobs explained that the difference between a janitor and a Vice President is that a janitor can have excuses for not getting their work done, but a VP is responsible to succeed, regardless of obstacles.
“Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering,” says Jobs, adding, that Rubicon is “crossed when you become a VP.”
In other words, you have no excuse for failure. You are now responsible for any mistakes that happen, and it doesn’t matter what you say.
Invest time and energy and become a leader that people can trust to get things done when you say you will, without oversight or reminders.