Watching a high school water polo team's performance reminded me this past weekend that leaders of all types-coaches, parents and managers-should consider more than their personal preferences or stakes; they are responsible for the sum of the talent that they oversee.
The water polo team comprised players from each high school grade, and among the players, they had talent, potential, strength, passion, and ability. They had been willing to put in hours of practice throughout the season. Yet, their opponent decimated them. The difference was that the former team had been coached to be in shape, and the latter team was coached to compete. Separating the two were refined techniques, a sense of winning, commitment by the coach to help the players excel, and the opportunity to be as good as possible.
The situation reminded me of when I conducted a six-month review for a talented, ambitious, humane professional employee, and she said of the organization, "Why are we asked to do things if we are not allowed to flourish at them?" Indeed, why ask of others a level of commitment and dedication when you are not committed to helping them reach their individual and collective potentials?
I watched the teams compete and considered the similarity between coaches, managers, and parents. Too often, the "person in charge" guides and leads based on their own personal dedication levels instead of feeling responsible for helping each individual get the most out of their talents, abilities and dreams. There are probably some scholarship quality athletes on the losing team, but they'll never have that option because the coach wasn't really interested in the sport.
In my mind, those in charge don't have the right to squander the collective gifts of their "team" for the sake of their own underachievement or lack of interest. Leaders are entrusted with others talents, desires, dreams, needs and hopes. To not do everything possible to let each member gain knowledge and skills based on their abilities, and to then direct those to grander goals constitutes neglect. Leaders hold more responsibility than only their own goals and aspirations.
Listen to Life is a free newsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com). Copyright 2010 Dion McInnis. All rights reserved.