Developing bench strength is critical…
Bench strength is more than just hiring or attracting talent;
it’s also about proactively positioning people.
Most people who are concerned about developing their skills as leaders, or even their own personal improvement, have a vision of soaring to the top of the leadership pyramid, or standing out in some absolutely remarkable way. Don’t get me wrong. This is great for that spark or flame of entrepreneurial spirit that lies within each of us.
I have recently had an article posted on Todd Nielsen’s “Second International Blogathon” and I am thrilled, to say the least. My post wasn’t supposed to go live during the blogathon. I am/ was a backup writer, a bench-warmer. Earlier this week, I ran a book review on “The Fearless Front Line” by Ray Attiyah. And these two things have blended together quite fortuitously for today’s unplanned post.
But as usual, I didn’t really come today to talk about me, but about you.
Thank heaven for the bench!
Although everyone strains and pushes toward the limelight, that isn’t really the end goal, personally or organizationally. What we want is fulfillment, happiness, growth and sustainability. In Ray Attiyah’s book, he talks about the value of “bench strength,” and how it is needed for companies to grow. Well, it is needed for almost any project we take part in.
I won’t bore you with any mangled basketball, football (American or not), or baseball metaphors, but you can see the image clearly. The “super-stars” are out front getting all of the press and the applause until something goes wrong. Either something happens to or with the star, and back-up is required. Or, a specialty skill is what is really called for to complete the push forward. That is where the bench comes in.
But, sitting on the bench is not just about sitting. It is about patience, showing up, practicing, working out, running drills, understanding the playbook, being able to carefully observe what’s happening around you. It is about learning your craft well, and working to get to the top of your game. It also means offering your skills and talents to help out where you can and where they fit in.
It means writing. Writing even when you feel that no one is reading or listening or noticing. It means putting your stuff and yourself “out there,” even when you don’t think you have a shot. But, it is not about necessarily being the 1st in class, but doing you due diligence to clarify what it is you want to say, get your message out, and to tell your story. And, you never know when you might get called by the majors.
Don’t get the message twisted!
Please, don’t misunderstand what I am saying to you today. The message is really no different. No, you are not shooting for second string, but sometimes that’s what you will get. But…
Never, ever expect anything less than the best from yourself.
Never, ever bring anything to the public arena with less than your best game-face on.
And, you know all of those opportunities that you have been pining over because they seem just out of your reach? Reach for them, you will surprise yourself.
Your reward may end up being monetary or increased notoriety, but that is only secondary. Your best reward is in knowing that you have lived your purpose and done the best job you could, even if you are “only” on the bench.
Remember: Your heart-satisfaction comes from within. Embrace it!
What are you doing today to stay at the top of your form?