Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Leadership Dilemma

One Saturday in September. The day when many people in Australia stop to watch the AFL Grand Final, played in Melbourne. This years Grand Final has been titled 'The Clash of The Titans' and will be played between St Kilda and Geelong, both proud football clubs with a long history. St Kilda is seeking to win its second premiership ever, its first being in 1966. Geelong is seeking to win its second premiership in three years after being pipped at the siren in last years Grand Final match.

There are two leadership groups in play here. The respective coaches and the team captains. Both coaches have a dilemma on their hands. They have to choose between players that have served them well all season or drop them for a more experienced player returning from injury. How would you handle this situation? Coaches of course don't win or lose games; on the day its those on the field that make the play. Yet decisions made before the game can impact upon morale and even how those on the field play on the day. Everyday senior managers make similar decisions. Who to include, who to leave out, who is the most qualified, the most experienced, most able to handle the situation, the impact upon others in the team and the impact upon inter-team relationships.

Then there are the team captains. On the field they are the ones responsible for leading the way. In this sense sports teams differ from business teams. A sport team captain rolls up their sleeves and gets down and dirty with everyone else. In business, the 'captain' often adopts a more hands-off role. In both instances the team captain is responsible for motivating those in the team, helping them overcome the disappointments, picking themselves up from their mistakes and keeping on going. Again this is where a sports team differs, unlike a business team, if you make a mistake on the sports field it may cost your team the game - and there are no second chances in a Grand Final.

How would you lead in these pressure situations? As a team leader you will get recognition for the combined effort of your team, just as the captains of these two teams will. Just as they cannot play and win this match on their own, neither can you achieve success without all your team members working together in a collaborative manner to the match plan.

Grand Finals are a pressure cooker situation. Lose your cool you will make a mistake and be penalised. As a team leader you don't necessarily work in a pressure cooker yet if you allow your emotions to get in the way members of your team will lose confidence in you and fail to produce. In that situation you, as the team leader, are responsible.

On Monday 28th September, only one off these team will be on the front page of the papers. The other, the losing team, will have already faded into memory. Where will your team be next Monday? How will they view you as their leader? As the Australians say 'Up There Cazaly'.

Let The Journey Continue

John Coxon
Taking You From Frontline Manager to CEO
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