Keeping Your Eye On The Ball

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I attended a benefit concert last night—An Evening with the Music of John Lennon—featuring a pantheon of rock musicians from bands such as the Cars, Yes, Queen, Alice Cooper, Foo Fighters, the Commodores, and others. One of the driving forces behind this concert was my friend Alan White, the drummer for Yes who also played drums with John Lennon and George Harrison (he’s the guy who plays drums on Lennon’s song Imagine). Thanks to Alan, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with most of the musicians after the concert, and virtually all of them told me that the success of the night (which was a benefit for breast cancer) came down to one thing, which I think every person involved in a team needs to hear:

They all left their egos at the door.

In 1985 a number of world class musicians came together to record the song We Are the World. Producer Quincy Jones famously posted a sign at the entrance to the recording studio which read “Leave Your Ego At The Door.” It was the same for last night’s concert. The musicians were all world class with major league credentials. But, as Alan told me, they only had one full rehearsal, and they had to learn 32 songs. If any one of these rock stars had let their ego get in the way, it would have stalled the whole process and severely endangered the outcome of the event.

It comes down to keeping your eye on the ball. In this case, the ball was the music of John Lennon, and helping to find a cure for breast cancer. Here’s what the ball was NOT:

  • playing more guitar solos than anybody else
  • singing lead on more songs than anybody else
  • having a bigger dressing room than anybody else

Your team doesn’t have to learn 32 songs in two days with one rehearsal. You have other projects and other challenges. The common denominator, though, is that like the rock stars, your team also has to keep their eye on the ball. It’s your job as a leader to make sure the ball is well-defined, and that your team is constantly aware of it, and of their individual roles in the successful outcome. In other words, it’s your job to make sure your team “leaves their egos at the door.”


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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