The other weekend, Auntie went to watch her local football team, the Redshirts. Sadly, there was more rivalry among the Redshirts themselves than there was with their opponents. They lost the match, leaving fans like Auntie disappointed and lots of bad feeling and blamestorming in the changing room after the game.
They had played as a collection of 11 people who happened to be on the pitch at the same time, each one trying to be the star player. It’s a common problem, as much in business as it is in sport, but the real issue isn't egos made greedy and needy by the niggling voice of insecurity. It's the failure to lead and inspire the group to work together towards their common goal.
We all love praise - and resent it when we don’t get it. Auntie certainly does. A smart leader will find a way to overcome their players' all-too-human fear of having their contribution overlooked.
The Redshirts’ captain, coach or manager, should have spotted the signs of a battle within the team before they set foot on the pitch - or at least at half-time - and taken steps to make sure all team members to focused on the ‘we’, not the ‘me’.
In business, we all know people who are so focused on their own targets and balance sheets, they don’t see that their department or section is part of a bigger picture. They need to be reminded that sometimes it’s worth passing the ball to a fellow player or letting a colleague to take a share of the business to get a better overall result. After all, winning together feels so much better than leading to defeat.
Auntie is an obstinate optimist. She's pretty sure that the Redshirts’ captain will have learned a lesson in leadership and that she’ll see a better result the next time they hit the pitch.
If she doesn’t, she's ready to step in at half-time to deliver that lesson herself. Redshirts, you have been warned.