In sports, you often hear the old axiom that winners want the ball. I heard it growing up playing a myriad of sports and even as a college athlete. It becomes ingrained in our psyche as athletes and competitors. We witnessed it during March Madness when Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale hit a buzzer beater to give the Irish the Women’s’ National Championship. She wanted the ball and the chance to win it, right? Not really. She wasn’t the one who was supposed to get the ball, but her teammate was covered so she ended up with the ball and made the shot.
I believe that winners don’t necessarily want the ball. They want the ball in the right person’s hand at the right time. That isn’t always themselves. I believe that great leaders can (and often should) take a step back and let a team member take the winning shot, make the winning pitch, close the winning sale, etc.
Winners elevate others. Sometimes it is up to the leader to be the one to make the crucial move for a team, company, corporation to win. But I believe it is more impactful and lasting if that leader sets up those around them to win and passes the ball at the right time to the right person.
At the end of the day - the entire team gets that championship ring (or benefits from closing the deal).