Leader, Don’t Be A Goalie

Preventing Goals

In the game of soccer, the goalie is the person on the team who’s primary objective is to stop goals. To achieve this, goalies get to do things that the other members of the team are not allowed to.

These include:

  • Goalies can use their hands to stop a goal.
  • Goalies can position themselves directly between a player and the goal to prevent the player from scoring.
  • Goalies can dive for the ball and the other player typically must back off so the goalie remains safe at all times.

Great goalies use every bit of skill and ability they have to prevent goals from being scored by the other team.  This is a good thing on the soccer field, or the “pitch” as it is properly called. However, in the workplace leaders who prevent others from accomplishing their goals are often viewed as selfish manipulators who will do anything to protect their position in the company.  Everyone has probably worked for a “Goalie” at some point in their career.

Goalies are those in leadership positions who constantly sabotage their team members’ attempts to accomplish their goals.

A confident leader will create a work environment where there are opportunities for employees to continually grow and make progress toward their goals.  The leader’s objective should be to help his or her staff accomplish each of their individual goals.

A Goalie’s Motivation

Why do some leaders insist on playing Goalie?  I believe the answer is simple.  Insecurity about his or her ability to perform as an effective leader and fear that a member of the team, if given too many opportunities, might develop the skills to do the leader’s job.

This mentality is often seen in service-oriented industries where one’s ability to work well with customers and develop successful relationships is often valued above pure technical knowledge gained through many years of experience.

Having the ability to successfully serve a customer and act as the primary point of contact for one’s company is typically more valuable than knowing all of the details about how the product is designed, fabricated, packaged, etc.

Since customer contact can be so important, it is not that uncommon for less confident leaders to keep junior members of their team away from direct interaction with the customer.  If  team members’ goals are to gain experience building customer relationships, by denying them that opportunity their leader is being a Goalie.

Even when a leader encourages direct interaction between the customer and a member of their team, he or she is often reluctant to let the team member develop into the primary day-to-day contact for that customer.  A sign that this is occurring is when the leader uses the word “I” repeatedly with a customer and takes personal credit for the work performed by the entire team.

Leaders, Help Them Score

Confident and competent leaders will want to duplicate themselves so they can have more time to address big-picture issues within the organization.  The Goalie has the mentality that there is only enough room for a limited number of people in leadership positions.

He or she protects their turf at all costs.

However, a confident leader has an “abundance” mentality and realizes that by helping team members achieve their goals, he or she will likely be able to grow and advance as well.

Can you think of leaders in your organization who like to play Goalie?  How does senior management deal with the leaders?  Are they even aware of what these leaders are doing?  What would you do if you discovered you had a Goalie on your leadership team?

Bookmark Leader, Don't Be A Goalie!

Ken Jones, AIA, LEED AP
is a Vice President at Grimm + Parker Architects in MD
A service-focused leader, Ken helps create meaningful architecture + client  success

Email | LinkedIn | Web | My Blog

Image Sources:  ezinearticles.com, turbophoto.com, latimes.com,martinfrost.ws

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