Either Get in the Game or Get Off the Pitch

Get in the game

As Leaders our jobs is to inspire our teams, to ignite their passions and to help them raise their game to the next level.

However, some days our hearts are just not in it; we lack inspiration ourselves; our motivation is calling in sick; we are lacklustre and couldn’t get excited about winning the lottery.

In these situations we either need to get our heads in the game or get off the pitch. Instead of leading we are now holding our teams back, we are doing both them and ourselves a disservice.

We might no be pulling them backwards, but we will certainly not be helping to push them forwards.

This situation can often arise when we do not fully believe in what it is we are doing, or when we do not see the real importance of task, or feel the urgency to do it.

This happened to me one time when I was asked to lead a project on Product Pricing.

The business had to choose between two projects, one on Product Costing where we determined the detailed costs that went into creating our products, and another project where we had to create a system which would allow us to determine what we should charge for our Products.

The business wanted to do both projects, but they didn’t have enough budget for both, so they selected one, the Pricing Project.

To me this was crazy, I felt it was impossible to determine the right Price without knowing the detailed Cost. I felt that if we did the Costing project, we could determine the Price just by adding the required margin to the costs.

I lost the argument and was then asked to lead the project anyway.

At this point, it wasn’t something I believed in, I wasn’t inspired by it, which meant I couldn’t inspire the team, and inspiration is not something you can fake, or at least it’s not something I can fake.

So I approached my boss and told him as much. I asked if I could be switched to another project, or to some other work, as my heart wasn’t in this. It would be better to give it to someone who believed in it and who could drive it to successful conclusion.

Fortunately I had a good boss who understood me, and also agreed with me that we should be doing the Product Costing rather than the Pricing, so he took me off the project and assigned it to one of our younger project managers, giving her the opportunity to step up to the next level, something which clearly would inspire her.

The boss then gave me an interesting role, he told me to work on the design of the Product Costing, but to do it in my spare time with a small team. We didn’t have any budget, so we had to find creative ways to make it happen. He also asked me to keep an eye on the other project and mentor the Project Manager.

Now this was a great move on the bosses part. He had inspired me in two ways: firstly, as I felt that Costing was right thing to do, he knew I would find a way to make it happen; and secondly, he knew I loved to mentor people, so asking me to support the new project manager kept me involved in the Pricing project, but in a way that I could positively contribute.

Ultimately, the team working after hours came up with a simple and easy way to deliver a detailed cost breakdown, which we could actually include within the Product Pricing system, this would allow us to give the business the best of both worlds in one solution.

With the right actions, the boss had managed to get everyone into the game, and with the right inspiration, in order to give the customer what they needed and actually wanted, rather than what they had asked for.

When we have the right inspiration we can move mountains, when we have the wrong inspiration, we can be as hard to move as mountains. This is why inspiration is important!

Have you ever been involved in a project where you were uninspired, if so, how did you react to it, what did you do?

thanks for reading

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles