There is no ‘I’ in team, but there is a ‘me’

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Success is a great thing. We all want it, because it’s the undisputed champion in measuring our selves. We know it’s hard to get, and that’s what makes it all the more satisfying. We cherish it, because we know what it’s like to fail (because we all do). So, when it happens, when you achieve success…. there’s the part of us that feels like the cat that got the cream.  I did it! How about that! God, I’m good. Why not celebrate your success? It feels good when you get all of that praise and recognition. The praise often flies in your direction and it’s so easy to slip into ‘I know, I did a great job…thank you’.

But there’s a catch to this if you are a leader on the road to greatness. Should we take all the credit?

Probably not, as most successes are achieved as part of a team. You may have “shown them the way” (the definition of a leader), and they got there. They deserve the credit.  Yes, you played a major role.  Yes, if you weren’t involved it might not have happened at all. But they still DID it.

Inspire - Teddy Roosevelt - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

It takes a lot of humility to step aside when the accolades come, and deflect them elsewhere. A selflessness that puts aside a certain fear – the one that thinks that unless you strut your stuff out there, it won’t be noticed by your bosses when bonus or promotion time comes.

I succumbed to that fear a few times earlier in my life. I remember a time that I really felt I was being under appreciated, deserved more recognition and probably a promotion…I was sitting in a project review meeting where we had just implemented a new IT system and found myself spouting phrases like…

 “I did that, I found that I achieved that, my system……, I solved this…… I, I, I, I, I, I …..”

I had neglected the fact that this was a huge team effort and in that moment, I wanted to bask in the glory and selfishly grab the limelight. I am sure you can imagine the impact this had on the project team. Luckily I learned, it has taken time, several great mentors, some personal reflection and painful feedback.

The other thing that convinced me once and for all that I shouldn’t take the credit was scientific fact. Jim Collins figured it all out in one of my favorite business books, Good to Great. The leaders of all the “Great” companies all had this humility – they gave the credit to someone else.  And it was researched, and documented, many times over. Because they didn’t DO it.  They just showed the way.  Collins calls them “Level 5 Leaders” – they’ve taken leadership up another very important notch.

As Teddy Roosevelt said in his famous speech at the Sorbonne in 1910:

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause”

Greatness will await you, for your team will respond to your selflessness with an even greater desire to make you proud, and start the credit cycle all over again. What will you do differently? Listen to the number of times you use the word ‘I’ in conversations this week…….

Sean@Bluesky

Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

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