In any realm, human beings tend to focus and amplify the importance of individuals. This is perhaps most consistently evident in team sports, where one or two stars in a team garner most of the praise and attention after each game. Some fans – and certainly the star players themselves – understand that without the hard work of role players, both on and off the court, team success would not be possible; yet most people persist in focusing on the superstars.
Sports often provide useful metaphors for life, and the issue of role players can easily be extended to real-life scenarios. Large-scale operations such as oilfield downhole applications in Ohio, or complex machinery and automotive systems, can fail unless the right torsion springs are used. Your workplace is typically organized into teams, and while business success can often be attributed to leadership, the key cogs are also deserving of recognition. Here are three reasons why we all stand to gain from an enhanced appreciation of role-playing individuals.
Elevating awareness of function
A disproportionate focus on individuals – whether they are sports superstars or business leaders – can blind us to the exact functions of other players in the system, and their importance to the function of the whole. Consequently, many people fall into the trap of only missing something when it’s gone. On paper, the role of any given employee might not seem impressive; they may even be considered easy to replace. But a good role player executes a specific task properly within the team context. In design, for instance, a new hire might be talented yet over-eager to impress, producing graphics which aren’t in line with the overall look you’re aiming for. This wastes time and effort; experienced team players understand that working within the style guide to the best of their ability is what leads to desired business results.
Clearly defined roles may be perceived as limitations, and this can lead to frustration. Whether it stems from a desire to grow and learn, or a preference to handle more glamorous tasks, the impact is often negative unless that person understands the value of their role. When you have a greater appreciation of role players, you know that the best way to stand out is by excelling in one’s current tasks. Designations are temporary; star performers come and go, and opportunities will be there for those who have been exemplary in their professionalism. Motivating every individual to perform must include getting their buy-in; understanding the scope and importance of one’s role allows a person to focus their efforts on specific tasks for performance improvement.
Increasing sense of purpose
For many people, a growing sense of dissatisfaction with their jobs can result from disconnection between their work and their vision of meaningful activity. As kids, we often dream of changing the world and helping others; it can be hard to reconcile that with a daily routine that mostly involves paperwork and sitting at a desk. Few people end up becoming world leaders or otherwise have significant influence in large-scale organizations and decisions; the majority are actually role players, and we can all derive a greater sense of purpose from clearly seeing how our work contributes to team success, and what the team efforts mean to our respective communities.
By better appreciating role players, you can distinguish the parts comprising the whole, and how vital it is that we all find meaning in performing to the best of our ability each day, no matter how limited the role.