In an interview, the well-known great Argentinian volley trainer Julio Velasco explains in a concise and effective way the “chain” that is created in a volleyball team between a masher, a lifter, and a receiver in case of error, in which one goes back in search of the guilty. In fact, he says, the first reaction of the masher is not focused on understanding what he did wrong and, above all, what he can do to be more effective in the future, but turns to the lifter and asks him to raise the ball better, actually transferring to him the responsibility of the error or at least sharing it. The lifter, for his part, turns to the receiver to ask that the ball be thrown better. The receiver remains, which – however – can not transfer the blame to anyone since the ball comes directly from the field side of the opposing team.
Then, through the chain, the great coach explains the difficulty of getting out of the rigid logic of “respect” of our task, removing from us the responsibility of the effectiveness of the game as a whole and of the final result (the point won or lost). In practice, the mistake is to consider only one’s task important, not worrying about that of others, with the risk of not achieving full effectiveness as a group.
This metaphor allows us to represent on one hand the importance of the individual contribution and on the other the focus on the overall vision that allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of the responsibility and activities of all the members.
In particular, to say that “the hitters don’t speak about how to set the ball, but they sort it out”, highlights the opportunity to focus on themselves and their contribution rather than blaming others for something wrong.
We are not something that is outside the group, but one of the elements that allow the group to reach full effectiveness.
So, getting out of the metaphor, within an organization, look at the faults of others it makes us lose sight of the “sense” of our responsibility and our contribution.
If we relate these considerations to the leader, taking personal responsibility means promoting choices in the direction that is deemed right even when the road seems too hard: it means recovering the power to make things go well even when this seems very difficult and even when it seems natural to say “I can not change things “,” it’s not up to me “.
In a leader, we see a guide that directs and makes decisions. But leadership is also (and above all) something else: it is the constant practice of personal responsibility that starts the action, promotes ideas, and new approaches to be shared in the group and adopted in everyday life.
The true leader must be the message he wants to send. This means acting in the organization by setting an example.