Play the ball. Not the man.
About 2 minutes to read
Let me ask you a question, what is the best advice you have ever received from a boss or leader that you admire?
For me this is easy to answer as I think back to my most admired and respected boss Rudy McLean. Rudy had many years of leadership experience within the corporation I worked for and when he took over our division as Managing Director; there was that underlying fear of “a new broom sweeps clean.”
Some people also had the attitude that he had to prove himself, as he had no specific knowledge or experience within the industry we worked in.
I was in Germany for the first 100 hundred days of his tenure but I started hearing the rumours. He was walking around the building with a calculator in his hands, questioning EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. He wasn’t causing waves he was just questioning and calculating. This behaviour made people uncomfortable but they too started questioning and calculating, they too started looking at our organisation differently and as a result, a new breeze started to blow.
I met Rudy in Germany where he was my neighbour during his orientation period. The first thing that struck me about him was how humble and down to earth he was. How did he treat me? As his equal, which is how he treated the whole team. One of the first things I remember him saying to me while I was ranting about someone else was, “Angie, play the ball and not the man.”
This wasn’t shouted at me or enforced upon me, it was simply said.
What does this mean you may ask? It is a reference to soccer where many times a player causes a foul by attacking their opponent instead of the ball. This is an illegal action in the game and can have severe consequences for the players in terms of causing physical injuries or being red carded and kicked out of the game.
While I haven’t worked for Rudy in nine years this piece of advice remains fresh and challenging to me each day.
It often pops into my head when I get into a whining state of mind about other people or when I want to blame someone for a perceived injustice. I am ALWAYS reminded DO NOT ATTACK THE PERSON; deal with the ISSUE AT HAND.
We seem to live in a society where blaming others and defaming their characters is acceptable. How often do we speak badly of a friend, colleague, loved one, and even politicians when we are frustrated with their actions or behaviours? Instead of dealing with the issue, we attack their character.
I know from experience how demeaning and shaming it is to experience a character assassination, it accomplishes nothing positive leaving only anger, resentment, bitterness, and shame in its wake.
Join me today in playing the ball and not the man. When you want to attack another, take a moment and then deal with the issue at hand. I can guarantee it leaves a better taste in the mouth.[/fusion_text]