I don’t often follow the sport of curling, but something happened earlier this month during the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier that caught my attention – in fact, a prime example of good leadership in action. After a heartbreaking 8-4 loss on March 2 that put them in the dangerous position of not making the playoffs, Team Canada’s captain (skip), John Morris, made the decision to switch roles with Pat Simmons, one of the other three members on the team. He promoted Pat to the role of skip and took on the role of sweeper. Not only did John give up his leadership role, but if you’re familiar with curling, then you know that skips and sweeps do very different activities on the ice. When asked, John said “I feel we needed a bit of a spark out there and it felt great … I think this is our best chance right now.” It turned out to be the right decision. Team Canada won their game the next day, and subsequently went on to the win it all at the gold medal game on March 8.
What caught my attention was two-fold. First, that John Morris made the difficult decision to step down from his role as leader and hand the reins over to Pat Simmons, and second, that he chose to stay on as a member of the team. As a leader, it takes immense presence of mind and courage to recognize when you are no longer serving the best interests of your team and when it’s important to support someone else has the skills to lead the team to success. In fact, I was reminded of a blog post I wrote five years ago, in 2010, about something that happened at the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. In It’s not about you, it’s about them, I offered an illustrative example of why leadership is not about the leader; it’s about the people on the team. John Morris got that! He understood that good leadership was about the team, and not letting his ego and pride get in the way of a decision that served the greater good.
I’ll be honest though, when I first learned about John and Pat and the Tim Hortons Brier 2015, it made me think about whether I would have done the same, had I been in a similar situation. Would I have been able to keep the overriding team objective in mind, or would ego and pride have gotten in the way of good decision-making? While I’ll never really know for sure, I hope that I would have chosen the latter.
What about you? Do you think you would have chosen the greater good over individual pride? What examples have you seen in your workplace of the good and the bad? Please share.