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Freelancing and consulting: I’m a doer and it fits me just fine

I’m neither a leader nor a follower. I am a doer and that’s why I prefer freelancing and consulting over corporate employment.

You may have had trouble reading the title of this. It doesn’t look right to me either, but I verified in the dictionary that “doer” is the correct label for someone that “does,” and no, the word does not take a hyphen.

I am a doer because my greatest strength is in implementing. My corporate jobs have been implementation roles in marketing research, marketing communications, writing and project management. I take great pleasure in getting work done and checking tasks off my to-do list.

I don’t see other people labeling themselves as doers. Actually, most people call themselves leaders. A leader, of course, is someone who rules, guides or inspires others, and it seems like everyone nowadays considers himself a leader.

“Leadership” has come to mean everything from competence to industriousness to taking initiative. The word has a much broader scope than its traditional meaning.

In my past work as a professional resume writer, a striking percentage of my clients positioned themselves as leaders. Take the administrative assistant who monitored sales data and worked with sales staff to improve their results, planned and implemented sales campaigns and awards, and coordinated responses to incoming customer calls.

She called herself a leader—her resume was strong in terms of what she did—and she did get job calls and even offers within days of sending out her resume. Still, I question if she met my (secret) demanding requirements for a leader.

The opposite of a leader is a follower. Common sense would tell us that a leader must have followers to be effective and that we should expect there to be many more followers than leaders.

But here in the U.S, “follower” has become synonymous with “lemming.” We think of the follower as personified by grade school children who try cigarette smoking and later become drug addicts by following the bad examples of others.

The closest role to follower that is not a shameful role is “team player.” There are lots of those around. Often the very same people who are leaders are also team players.

I guess I’m a team player. I play well with others and work well with others, too.

However, there’s always been something off-putting about the term, especially since I did not receive the respect I felt I deserved during corporate employment.

As a non-ranking team member, my input was frequently ignored. I was not invited to meetings to which I could have contributed. Despite many years in marketing and lots of study as well, my opinions were discounted. Sometimes they were even re-presented by others who enjoyed their acceptance or at least consideration.

Although I was a writer, higher-ranking individuals would “correct” my spelling and grammar for the worse, assuming that “its” without an apostrophe looks a little naked and needs correcting simply for appearance’s sake.

Today I am a freelance / consultant and it fits me much better. People hire me to implement, which I enjoy.

And since there is little prestige in many organizations in being a doer, corporate people with access to sufficient funding enjoy turning the work over to me.

Originally posted 8-12-13

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