“Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.”
Scottie Pippen, Basketball player
This quotation really hits home for many of us, and it is important to think about it whether we are reacting to a change made by others or we are the person making the decision to announce a change. Our role on the team is critical to both the team and the players. There is usually only one point guard to set up the play on the court at a time and the point guard doesn’t always call the play. The plays available are usually called by the coach from the bench. Sometimes the defense requires that a subtle change be made in the play, and the point guard has the responsibility to both decide when and how that happens, and is held responsible for the decision’s timeliness as well as for the outcome.
Similarly, we are part of the team in our workplaces. We may operate day-to-day quite independently but we are still part of a team, and we are accountable for doing our part in making the team successful. We may well need to alter our game plan given occurrences in our world, but we do so knowing we are responsible for the outcome. Unless we are exceptional, we will not always make the right call, or even if we do make the right call, it may not always work out.
It is important that we recognize that we are part of the team, and that the rest of team may be affected by some action we take on the spur of the moment. We need to be aware of the impact our action will have on the team if it fails, just as we need to be sensitive to the feelings of the others on the team whether it fails or succeeds.
Sales people may not have the authority to alter pricing or promise more rapid delivery without conferring with their manager. Their manager may not have the sole authority and might need to confer with his or her boss. Production line workers have little leeway in how they perform their jobs for obvious reasons.
If we have been around for any time at all, we probably can think of situations where someone took the initiative and made a decision impacting the entire organization. We might have had the experience where that was a bold but successful move. Or, we might’ve watched as that decision caused significant problems for the team.
If we have any doubt about when and where we have authority to make calls to change the usual approach or pricing or promises made to clients/buyers, we know those decisions require the approval of our manager, who may also need the approval of his or her manager. If we operate in a more autonomous working world, these kinds of uses of individual authority may well have been part of the initial hiring discussions. Even then, we need to be sure we have a winning track record when we make such decisions.
Too many bad calls may get us benched or traded. Team players are a valuable commodity to the company and to their fellow team members.
Fred D’Amato, President