Coach or Quarterback?
Coach or quarterback?
- In theatre there is the director who does not act
- In the army there is the commander who stays out of the front line
- In sports there is the coach who stays on the sidelines
Theatre, warfare and sports have been with us for a very long time. People have tried different ways to organize and structure all these endeavours, trying to get a competitive edge any way they can. The winners always have a structure that allows for careful management, a layer of people whose job is not to participate too actively but to make sure the right people are in the right positions doing the right things. Could it really be any other way?
There are positions that fall somewhere in between. In football the quarterback is in the thick of things, she runs the play sent in by the coach. In the army the sergeant fights alongside his people but with one eye on the instructions laid down by his commander.
Every high performance organization has coaches and quarterbacks. Once the team you lead gets to a certain size you can no longer work alongside the team if you want to keep the organization growing and improving. For me this was probably around 10 people in the company, unfortunately for me I did not recognize it until we reached about 20. Ever since I accepted that my role is to stay informed, stay out of the direct action, coach my quarterbacks and watch the horizon for what is coming next, our organization has started growing strongly and sustainably again.
It is okay to want to stay hands-on and be the quarterback or sergeant, but there has to be someone in the coach or commander position or your organization is not going to thrive. Is that supposed to be you?
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