On Highly Effective Teams Everyone Plays a Vital Role

Whenever I have led High Performance Team LearnShops™ at least one person will claim that they are so new or inexperienced that they don’t play much of a role in the team’s success. My response is always “A football team can’t win a game let alone a championship if the quarterback has a linemen that continually misses his block”.

This reminds me of a story I heard former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz tell. The Fighting Irish first team offense was in a live full contact scrimmage against the first team defense and doing poorly because one of the offensive linemen kept missing his block. The quarterback and others were getting on that player’s case and ultimately complaining to coach Holtz saying he needed to be replaced. Holtz responded “OK, I will take him out. Now run the play”. But he didn’t put another lineman in, so the QB complained “But coach, we’re missing a lineman!” To which the coach said, “I know, run the play”.

Of course, even after several tries the QB couldn’t even hand the ball off let alone pass it as a defender was immediately all over him. At that point Holtz told the whole team “When a teammate isn’t performing well, instead of getting on his case, support him and offer to help him so he can perform better.” The message I took away was that true teammates don’t throw a teammate under the bus when they have an off day or don’t perform as well as expected. I always stress that everyone has a vital role to play. As the Broadway adage goes “There are no small roles, only small actors”.

Frank Manfre www.frankmanfre.com



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Frank Manfre

Frank Manfre


Business consultant & coach w/ 35 years experience in leadership roles in for profit and nonprofit organizations focused on developing leaders & org health