The best part of business travel is the people you meet. Maybe it’s in the line at airport security. At the gate waiting between long layovers. Or eating alone at a restaurant. Sometimes, I meet an interesting person seated next to me on the plane. When that happens, the flight always seems too short.
Last month, I was very lucky. As I took my seat, I said “Good afternoon” to the man next to me. He responded with, “Good afternoon. How are you today?” I could sense a good conversation, and a short flight.
I asked if he was heading out or heading home. He said that he was going home. But, he had one more stop to make. The gentleman explained that he owned a small company in England, and was visiting customers in the United States. Before returning, he was making a detour to South Carolina to play golf with a friend.
For a while, we talked about his company, their products and customers. He turned the conversation back to me with the question, “What are you responsible for?”
Wow! What a great question, “What am I responsible for?”
In most cases, people ask, “What do you do for a living?” or “Who do you work for?”. Simple questions requiring little thought. As a consultant, I usually answer with some information on how I help my customers, including sample projects. But “what are you responsible for?” carries deeper meaning, and requires more thought.
As managers, it’s a question we should ask ourselves on a regular basis. And, we should reflect on how well we’re fulfilling those responsibilities. A self-review that we can keep to ourselves or share, depending on your preference.
For example, before starting The Berkshire Company, I was the Vice President, Document Technology and Delivery at State Street Corporation in Boston. This is how my biography describes my job: