If you have read any of my previous posts you know I often find professional/personal development nuggets in my everyday life. The same thing happened as I was watching my nine-year-old son play in his first game of the baseball tournament Monday night. Last year, in the younger league, his team won the tourney and were also season champs for his age group. This year, he moved up to the 9-12-year-old division and the wins were not as plentiful. They actually only had one win all season. My son often had a good attitude about that, but it was a very difficult transition to go from one of the strongest teams to one of the weakest. So, Monday night his team played the #1 seed. Imagine our delight when after eighty minutes of play time (in a ninety-minute game limit) we were up 11-4! It was so fun to see these boys playing together, having confidence, and enjoying themselves like they haven’t for the whole season. Well, then the wheels fell off. I couldn’t even tell you what happened first, but our defense started making errors, boys struck out, and their confidence waned. We finished the third inning 11-10, with a minute and twenty-two seconds left before the time limit would be reached. Since there was time left, the next inning began. We didn’t score, but the home team came in, scored two runs and the game (and the season) was over.
After the game, I complimented my son at playing his hardest (which he did). He was fighting back tears, as he angrily muttered, “I’m so mad at my team.” Whoa. Enter a teachable moment. It was easy for Evan to pick out the two “most-challenged” players to blame for the loss. The reality was, however, that they had little to nothing to do with the turnaround. We had a talk then, about what it means to play on a team. Every member has a role. Every position is important to the overall organization. Teams are dynamic. Leaders move on, members come and go. Adjusting and building a new team is a major part of all organizations. When this happens, or when things aren’t going as smoothly as they should, and when changes aren’t being implemented effectively, good leaders look at the team as a whole first. What needs to happen to make the team stronger? More time together to build unity? Strategizing and visioning sessions? Taking a step back from the issue/challenge to see it more objectively? How can we get the team functioning as a whole? After those questions are answered, then the leader can look at individuals to see where strengthening needs to occur – beginning with herself.