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Stepping up to the plate | A lesson in leadership

February 2, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to write here… and recent events drove me back to the root of my social media comfort zone, sharing my story with others.

A good friend of mine, my partner in crime, and the leader of my team at work recently was removed from his post… the wide range of feelings that hit me ran  through my head so fast I got dizzy. My gut reaction was pure confusion, I was stunned, but I that emotion quickly subsided.

I had to approach the way I did everything differently from that moment on. I use the following analogy a lot when explaining my personality type and the role I feel most comfortable filling on a team: (pretext – I was in marching band for 8 years, they were some of the best years of my life, and they showed me a few valuable life lessons)

In the marching band I played snare drum, literally the pulse of the band. I was center snare, so without me the band didn’t move, it didn’t march, it didn’t play, it did nothing. It was my job to lead the drum line, we led the band, the band led the fans. The only two people I took visual orders from during a performance were the Drum Major and the Director. The Drum Major was the commander of our troops, I was his Lieutenant. Without me, he had no way to manage his troops, without me he had no direct power over the band. I was always the leaders right hand man, the go-to-guy, the lead by example work horse. I was never the Drum Major.

I filled a similar role at work, I was the lead by example team member. But when I got moved up into the newly vacated team leader position I had to change everything. I was now the Drum Major, I now how to lead by action and example.

I had to step up to the plate and take the first pitch of a new game… my team was watching, eyes glued to my every move to determine if I was qualified for my new position. The pitcher wound up and delivered a fast-moving curve ball, I knocked it out of the park.

To use this analogy is really quite fitting, in little league baseball I had a total of 3 hits in 5 seasons. I was an all-star left fielder but couldn’t hit a pitch to save my life. But ironically, all three of my hits came in tournaments and all three of them either won a game or saved us from losing. I guess I had it in me the whole time and never knew it.

The moral of the story is that sometimes leadership is thrust upon you, much like greatness is thrust upon people. I didn’t think I had what it took to be a leader of my team at work, but now I know I do. I thought I would never hit that ball in little league but I did when the game was on the line.

Einstein said it best, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”     I’m living those words right now…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Stephen W. Weiss permalink
    February 2, 2011 5:15 am

    Filling the leader role can be scary/nerve racking at first but becomes a fun challenge when actually in the position. Figuring out how to motivate people is like a game of psychology that is pretty hard to win at, but when you do, is very rewarding. As for being ready for it all, it is hard to see in yourself that you are ready and I think it does take an outside 2nd party to tell you that “YOU ARE READY”. Which is fine, just make sure you bring your bat when you step up to the plate.

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