Sometimes Leaders Get Tossed From the Game on Purpose
Knowing a leader has your back and is willing to stand by you in difficult moments means the world to team members. We develop deep and loyal bonds with leaders who advocate strongly on our behalf and won’t let others speak poorly of us when we are not present to fight back.
When team members trust that a leader represents their best interests and battles for them, they work hard to prove they are “all-in” and get behind whatever the leader is pushing for.
The best leaders know how symbolically important it is to demonstrate strong advocacy for their team members. They often go to great lengths to prove it.
One novel example of such advocacy occurs during disputes with umpires during professional baseball games. Anyone who watches baseball knows that managers can get hot over contested calls during the game. They sometimes throw tantrums and get tossed out of the game by an umpire who believes they have crossed the line with their histrionics. While highly entertaining, what isn’t as obvious is that many baseball managers get tossed on purpose in an effort to show solidarity for their players. They prove how important their players are by advocating so strongly for them that they face the penalty of expulsion.
In the workplace, good leaders don’t kick dirt and scream in the face of others to make their point. But they do go to extremes to show the team they count.
Consider a few examples:
Insisting a team member get an organizational assignment.
Refusing to terminate a team member who has made an honest mistake.
Going back to their leader to argue for more compensation for an impactful team member.
Loudly defending a team member with an irate customer.
Strongly advocating for others enhances leadership credibility, especially when everyone on the team knows the leader will go to great lengths to defend anyone on the team. Nothing shows team members that they matter more than fighting for them. Protecting the team from external challenges and disappointments is what all great leaders do. Sometimes, it helps to do so in a noisy or dramatic way.