Know Your Job and Do It Well

At a conference I attended earlier this year, Matt Church told a story about leadership and team work, using a powerful story about a basketball coach and his players in the US. The specifics have left my memory, because it was another comment made as part of this discussion that left a lasting impression on me.

We were talking about sideline parents, and how to communicate with your kids at sport. The message that struck me was the importance of knowing your role – you’re not the coach, you’re the parent. Your job is not to make suggestions or comments about the game, tactics, weaknesses or the other team. That’s the coach’s job. Your job is to support your kid – all you need to say is “I love to watch you play.” 

This struck me, not just because I have remembered to keep my mouth shut more often at Saturday morning netball, but because it speaks to an important message for all of us – one I often need to learn (and relearn!).

"When leaders underestimate others, they underestimate themselves." - Dan Rockwell (Leadership Freak)

There is a lot to be said for knowing your job, and doing it well. Not only do you allow yourself to be awesome,  you empower others to do the same. I work with stressed and overwhelmed leaders and organisations who feel compelled to “do it all” - including senior leaders and governance with the very best of intentions that find themselves mucking in on operational stuff.

This can feel like the right thing to do - and every now and again, it can be. But overall, it’s a sabotaging behaviour that doesn’t honour their time, skills or role, or that of their team. I’m guilty of this myself (as my long suffering EA, husband and kids will happily attest) and it can be a hard habit to break - especially when you feel like this ability and willingness to get stuck in are largely how you’ve got to this point.

But as Marshall Goldsmith writes in What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, some of our success is more in spite of our behaviour than because of it. Blurry boundaries and control-freak habits undermine the productivity, engagement and effectiveness of yourself and everyone around you.

My prescription: do more of the stuff you are awesome at, empower others to do the rest and embrace the powerful impact on your team, organisation and customers/ community. Know your job and do it well!

How To...  Know Better and Do Better

  • Track your time and see where the opportunities lie

  • Ask for honest feedback from your team about whether you are overstepping the boundaries

  • Delegate or outsource tasks, projects or behaviours that do not make the best use of your skills.