I am one of those folks who watch the super bowl for the entertainment, not the football. Not just the ads and half-time show, but also the stories of triumph and beating the odds.
During yesterday's telecast, I was struck by the interview with soon-to-be MVP Eli Manning who said that his coach encouraged players to "do their jobs." The point he was making was that each player had a role and needed to focus on executing his role, not worrying about what others were doing or playing armchair quarterback/running back/tight end/kicker/and so on. Team members need to own their jobs and trust their fellow team members to do the same.
We should do this, too.
I am NOT saying that we should focus only on ourselves, work poorly with others, or adopt a survival of the fittest mentality - me, me, me. I am not suggesting corporate narcissism. Regular readers will know that is not my point here because I would never suggest this.
Here is the point: Think about how much better you and your team could be if everyone focused on his or her job, his or her contributions, his or her role within the team. A great team is made up of strong team members.
What gets in the way?
- Some people find it more interesting to think about what others should be doing differently. This is lazy and weak.
- Some people define success as compared to others. This approach will never serve you well.
- Some people don't hold themselves to a high enough standard.
- Some people are not clear on what their role is or how it they are expected to contribute.
- Some people get so wrapped up in the drama of the team that they lose sight of what the team is responsible for contributing. This issue, BTW, is different from being mission driven. I have worked with several health care clients, for example, where the team felt they were dedicated to saving lives and healing but who were not making the connection between their team dysfunction and their ability to manifest the mission.
I see these issues when working with struggling individuals and teams. I have wanted to hit team members over the head with a metaphorical 2-by-4 and say, "just do your job, don't worry about others."
So much energy gets soaked up by this crud. The opportunity costs are HUGE.
I bet we all could do better if we remind ourselves to just do the the work - our work. To do our thing and support others so they can do their things. To define success while resisting the urge to envy or covet other people's lives or roles.
And as managers, part of "our job" is to institutionalize this way of thinking and doing, like Manning's coach apparently did.