Herbietown - Do Real Leaders Always Want the Ball?

Do Real Leaders Always Want the Ball?

john_stocktonI had 3 assists at my hockey game tonight.  Glory!

Those assists got me thinking about things.  I’ve always valued a beautiful pass more than a beautiful shot.  There’s something so inspiring about doing the unselfish thing and looking to help your teammates succeed.  When I watch basketball, soccer or hockey – I always love the pass.

What about in business?  Can the passer find success in business?  Can you be a real leader if you’d prefer to avoid the limelight and make your contributions by assisting others?  Or does a real leader always want the ball, as we are so often taught?

I think the answer is clear.  The most important skill of a great business leader is to have the floor vision of a great point guard, and know how to distribute the ball to where it will do the most damage.  Sometimes a great leader shoots, but only when it’s the best available option.  They are always thinking about helping the team win.

I recently discovered something about myself, helped along by a friend.  It was somewhat of an epiphany.

I want the ball, but I’m afraid to take it.

I’m afraid someone will call me a ball hog, afraid that I won’t be a good passer, afraid that I’ll fail.

When I think about the times when I’ve ‘wanted the ball,’ it’s when I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.  That feels good.

When I don’t know what I’m doing, or I feel outmatched, I retreat into my shell and tell myself that the game doesn’t matter anyway.  I beat to my own drummer, there are more important things in life, etc.  Immature, escapist and unproductive.

Sometimes I worry that I don’t have the competitive spirit, you know, the kind that says ‘win at all costs.’  But I do.  It burns very strongly in me.  It is precisely because I’m so competitive that I am afraid to make mistakes, afraid to put myself out there, afraid to lose.

There is only one solution.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Do whatever it takes to find the confidence required.  Know, deep in my bones, that when the time comes I’ll know what to do, and I’ll always work to help the team succeed.  My heart is in the right place, my head is screwed on straight…I just need to grab the ball and start playing.

In business and in life, I have strong teammates.  To win, I need to trust myself enough to want the ball, and trust that my teammates will be there to help me win.