Watch a football game closely. When a team scores a long touchdown, watch the secondary’s reaction. If you watch closely enough, sometimes you will see him point fingers immediately or do something else that clearly singles out another player—a teammate!
Watch a quarterback throw the ball to a wide receiver. The receiver drops it. Now watch the quarterback’s reaction. Does he throw his arms up and act like a child that just lost his favorite toy?
Football is an emotional game, but when a player acts this way in public, in front of teammates, competition, and fans, he is basically showing up his teammates, making it known that whatever happened, it wasn’t his fault.
And that’s not what teamwork is about. The focus should be on winning the game, not on arguing over whose fault some mistake was. What happened to being in it together?
Perhaps the safety was supposed to help, perhaps the wide receiver should have caught the ball. Whatever. Who wants to be on a team with someone literally more interested in pointing out your faults on national television than winning the game?
In business, mistakes happen daily. Now, I’m not talking about major screw-ups or ethical violations, things that have to be taken seriously and actually punished, I’m talking about the little mistakes that everybody makes sometimes. Even little problems can have big consequences, or at least there are close calls. But if you call the problem out in a meeting for everybody to see, or go around complaining about your co-worker to the client or in public, what is going to happen to your team? What is going to happen to your company?
I know it’s tempting to blow off some steam when someone slips up and you have to work harder as a result, but picture that cornerback throwing his head in despair and yelling at one of his teammates for all to see. Ask yourself, do you really want to be that guy?
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