Leadership is a contact sport

Leadership is a contact sport

Image by mmtzjr69out via Flickr

I don’t enjoy playing basketball shirts vs skins.   I just don’t enjoy sweaty men pressing and bumping into me. It affects my commitment level. I don’t play as hard. It’s not fair to my team for me to play and not be committed to the contact required of the game.  When shirts are on, I’m in. I’ll throw my elbows around with the best of them.  Shirts off, I should walk away.

Adam said, “That’s not easy.” I asked Adam whether being a good leader is easy or hard. He said, “Hard.”   One of the things that makes it hard is that it takes commitment to do the stuff that’s not fun.   A theme emerged last week in the leadership course I’m teaching – Successful leaders negotiate conflict.  Negotiating conflict requires communication. Communication requires interaction. Interaction requires contact (even if it’s virtual).  Contact requires commitment.

Leadership is a contact sport. Some athletes are willing to make contact.  Others are not. Some people are willing to negotiate conflict.  Some are not.  It doesn’t make one better than the other.  Just different.

Leading people requires contact. If you’re not willing to get messy, get some bruises and make something happen, get off the field. You’re letting the team down. Let someone who’s committed to win lead the team instead. You’ll be happier and the team will be better too.

There’s just one problem.  Life isn’t a shirts vs. skins game.  Sometimes, the only choice is to recommit.   Is it that time for you?

What contact have you been avoiding?   The difficult conversation with an employee, establishing boundaries with a child or loved one, letting a teammember go because of consistent non-performance, the sales calls to your top prospects, having the budget conversation with your husband…

Be the leader.  Commit to make contact.  It might be messy.  Most things worth having usually are.

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