"It is my job to make sure that your jersey stays clean." The message was clear. One team member vowed to have the other's back. He committed to protecting his teammate's blind side and to be there for him. While this scene could have been played out in a football locker room, it was not. Instead it took place at one of the first leadership meetings between two executives. Since that time, I have observed how those words have turned into actions. I watch as each executive continues to strive for clarity and ownership of his individual role on the team. I see how one executive works to protect the time and energy of his leader. I see how his leader allows himself to be held accountable for not over committing.
When things get chaotic, as they do in all large organizations, the unselfish teamwork of both leaders shines through the chaos. Recently the "Jersey Protector" told his leader, "I am in this meeting to make sure you don't get anything else added to your plate". Each one understands the importance of their role. This relationship begins with clarity and grows with trust. It is a high-performing executive team.
Many times we allow ourselves to become overloaded with tasks that deter us from being our best. We find ourselves overworked and burnt out. This leads to poor leadership and mediocre performance. Knowing when to allow others to lead is essential for the success of any team or relationship. Being willing to support and protect a teammate is the foundation for effective leadership.
Both of these executives demonstrate a modesty that is inspiring and teamwork that is contagious. Choose to lead with a "Jersey Protector" mentality and you will make a difference!