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Have You Felt the Joy of the Assist?

As a young boy, my sport was softball. I played shortstop, the center of action on defense. I loved diving for the ball and throwing a runner out at first. Then soccer became my game when I hit seventh grade and I gave it my all throughout middle and high school–the thrill of scoring goals as center forward, but also the joy of passing to a teammate who scored. And my final competitive sport was volleyball, picking it up in college intramurals and playing until I was 40 years old every week. My dad was an Olympic-level setter on his national team, and I too enjoyed that quarterback position on the volleyball team, dishing up sets to spikers who hammered down kills. What all of these roles had in common for me, was the joy of the assist.  The assist stat in sports is never the one that gets the ooo’s and ahh’s, because it’s a bit more behind-the-scenes, strategic, empowering of a teammate to get the glory with the big play that sends fans wild with cheering.  But it’s fulfilling, for sure, knowing that you had a vital role in scoring, getting your team a little closer to a victory. And the teammate that got the exhilaration of the culminating play looks over at you and points–the signal that you made it happen. How does this apply to leadership? Leaders must always possess a How Can I Help mentality with their people.
  • They are clearing away obstacles for teammates to do their jobs to the best of their abilities–that’s an assist.
  • They are resourcing their teammates by telling them where to go or to whom to go for solutions to their dilemmas when they are stuck–that’s an assist.
  • They are a listening ear to teammates who are struggling, showing empathy and compassion that picks the person back up and gets him/her back in the game–that’s an assist.
  • They learn each individual’s long-term goals and look for opportunities to get them stretch assignments or training that get them a little closer to the skills necessary to reach those goals–that’s an assist.
And it feels great! In fact, I’d say it’s the essence of the reward of being a leader. Not perks. Not popularity. It’s developing people and watching them thrive. Here comes the ball. You gonna hog it? Or dish it off to allow a teammate to get the recognition? If you have other ideas of Assists in Leadership, please comment. And if i can “assist” you in your leadership development, well, you can see that that is why I love to do what I do. Let’s explore working together, shall we? I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org or 509-392-1895.