A colleague of mine shared a personal story of her son, when still very young in junior school, playing rugby for the first time. He had gone to practice during the week and came home beaming about his experiences – running with the ball, tackling others who had the ball, kicking and so on. My colleague learned that the team would be playing their first match of the season against a neighbouring school that coming Saturday morning. Intrigued that her young boy would be playing in a match after such little practice, she asked: “Tell me, do you know the rules and can you play the game?” The boy assured her confidently and said: “Well, my coach said that there is just one rule that we must always remember – don’t tackle members of your own team!”

This is perhaps a good rule for us all to remember – don’t break down what others are trying to build up. Don’t “rain on others’ parades”. Don’t play political games in an organisation – where positioning, jostling for power, often at the cost of negatively impacting others and manipulative practices geared to promote yourself rather than the mission of the company or the ideals of your team, become more important than achieving strategic objectives.

The problem with the above is that energy is applied inappropriately in the company. The saying, ‘where your focus lies, that’s where your energy will go’, rings true here. If one’s focus is on positioning within the political game, all one’s energy goes into tactics and perhaps even protecting your own back. If, however, one’s focus is on company objectives, team involvement and goals and growing the client footprint of the company, then all one’s energy gets directed into achieving worthy ambitions, encouragement of colleagues and more focused meetings.

When a person is focused on worthy goals and achieving the same with colleagues, reputation grows – one becomes known for one’s strategic ability, focus and milestone achievements. Staff will feel involved and have a sense of pride of being part of a winning team. As such, you also put yourself in a possible promotion position.

Organisational achievement requires the focus and subsequent energy of all involved. Pulling down others in the company, tackling members of your own team, deflects focus off the mission-critical aspects of the strategy and negatively impacts performance and results.

4 comments on “Don’t tackle members of your own team

  1. John on

    I guess it’s hard enough to break free from selfish ambition and to take responsibility for your own positive contribution. But how do you respond when you are the one that’s been tackled by your own team mate? Especially when confrontation is not welcomed in the team culture? Do you suck it up and face becoming a doormat? Do you appeal to a higher authority in the company and risk being a trouble-maker?

    • Jonathan on

      Hi John – thanks for the questions. I would say that neither of your possibilities are Prize A options. I certainly don’t think that you should suck it up. Neither do I believe that you appeal to a higher authority as a first option. The principle here is to sort it out directly with the person involved as first port of call. This is most effective and easiest when a solid relationship exists with the other party. Out of the context of commitment in an already existing relationship the issue can be addressed, probably with the preface of desiring sustainability in the relationship.

      If no relationship exists or if the relationship is troubled, then one or two things possibly need to happen:

      1. Start working on the relationship to establish some degree of trust – here one may find that the issue can be broached
      2. If this doesn’t work, then one may have to ask for a meeting with a manager present to address the issue

  2. Martha Hattingh on

    Lovely article. Like your statement regarding goals: “When a person is focused on worthy goals and achieving the same with colleagues, reputation grows”
    Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals! (Sydnet Smith)

    Strengths does not come from your winning, your struggles develop your strengths. (Arnold Schwarzenegger)


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