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The Importance of Every Role and Person on the Team

Whether it’s an organization of three people or a group of 3,000, teams thrive when everyone does their part and every role (and person) is valued and appreciated.

A few months ago, I had a chance to see the wonderful musical Anastasia on Broadway.  I was on a business trip to New York City and brought our ten-year-old daughter Rosie with me.  We got tickets at the last minute, and they happened to be in the front row, which was a new and unique experience for both of us.  Because of where we were sitting and the design of the set, not only were we able to see the actors up-close, we could also see down into the orchestra pit, which was cool. 

As enthralled as I was with the story and watching the performance on the stage, I was also incredibly impressed by the talent, coordination, and synchronicity of the conductor and the musicians.  Of course, I’d been aware of the music at previous shows I’ve seen, but sitting where we were that night had me realize how vitally important these musicians are to the overall production, even though I’d never taken the time to fully appreciate it until that moment.

If you’ve ever attended a play, sporting event, or concert, chances are you paid primary attention to the people on the stage or field, but not as much to all the people behind the scenes working to pull off what made the event so fantastic.

The Difference Between Your “Job” and Your “Role”

Whether it’s an organization of three people or a group of 3,000, teams thrive when everyone does their part and every role (and person) is valued and appreciated.

When most of people think about their “job,” they think of what they do—engineering, sales, project management, marketing, human resources, operations, design, finance, and so forth. While these descriptions may encapsulate what you do and the title you hold, they’re not actually your job. If you’re part of a team, you have a specific role, which is what you do.  However, your job is to help fulfill the goals, mission, and purpose of the team and, ultimately, the company.

In other words, you’re there to do whatever you can to help the team win. The challenge with this is that most people take pride in their role and they want to do it really well, which is great. However, when you put your role (what you do specifically) over your job (helping the team win), things can get murky—your personal goals become more important than the goals of the organization.

It takes commitment and courage, but teams and organizations made up of people who understand this simple but important distinction—who realize that everyone on the team has essentially the same job but different roles—have the ability to perform at the highest level and with the most collaborative environment.

At that Broadway musical a few months ago, the actors on the stage, especially the lead actors, got much of the attention from me, Rosie, and those of us in the audience that night.  However, without the musicians, the set and costume designers, the lighting and technical experts, the stage manager, the ushers, the marketing team who promoted the show, the ticket takers at the door, and so many other people, that show could not have happened and we would not have been in the audience.

Remembering that every role and every person on the team is vital to the overall success of the team is a simple, yet important thing to remember.  And, operating this way can help your team and organization succeed at the highest level.

Feel free to post any questions or comments here or directly on my blog.

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