One of my favorite aspects about my job is the opportunity I have to coach a variety of leaders who are at very different seasons and stages in their leadership walk. I get to work with experienced leaders at the helm of growing organizations, mid-level leaders influencing 360 degrees, and younger up-and-coming leaders who have great potential for becoming highly effective leaders.
A few weeks ago one of the up-and-comers I coach emailed me with a great question. She asked, “When does personal accountability and feeling personal ownership for getting the job done right move from leadership to being a ball hog?”
I love this question, and I know this is an area where many leaders struggle, especially if you’re used to being a producer. We can determine the answer to this question by asking three questions that check our motives and the impact of our actions.
- First, is it what’s best for the company?
- Second, is it what’s best for the team?
- Finally, is it what’s best for me?
We must always put ourselves last. We serve the company and the team first. Sometimes a person is a ball hog because they want the glory, so the agenda and reasoning behind hogging the ball are very important. Sometimes people feel they have to “prove themselves” to their leaders, so they hog the ball. While individual production may look good, if it wipes out the team, it’s not worth it to a leader.
The bottom line is that leadership isn’t about getting the job done by yourself. Leaders don’t ignore the people issues to get the job done. Leadership is about the people. We have to influence the job done right, not grab the job away to do it right ourselves.
Producing doesn’t take time, but leading and influencing does. If someone becomes a ball hog, they will always be a producer but they won’t be a leader. The problem is that over time, producers tire and burn out. Leaders never tire and burn out.