It’s not me, it’s you…and that’s good for me.

Have you ever been at a point in your career where some project you’ve championed, bled for, cried over, donated a kidney to see it live and be successful finally launched…and exceed everyone’s wildest expectations? Remember how proud you were? And remember the feeling in the pit of your stomach when the accolades were handed out and everyone except you was on the list?

I’ve been there. There was a similar project, one in which I had a big hand in developing the early concepts and pushing for this product. For me, it was one of my employees who did the actual legwork and he who got the accolades. Honestly, he was fantastic and deserved every ounce of credit. He deserved every bit of praise.

That’s not precisely the point of this post.

While I was watching, listening to the the praise for the team and hearing the accolades passed around, I so wanted to be called out as “Critical” to the launch and success of this product it occurred to me that part of the role of management should be to let his team take the credit for the project. It’s not the manager’s job to execute on the project plan, to complete the hundreds of tasks necessary to make the launch happen. It’s not a manager’s job to do the work for his team. In fact, just the opposite. It’s the manager’s task to pave the way, remove the roadblocks, to help his team execute at the highest possible level.

This means however that the team must reap the benefits of the success, including receiving the accolades. It is the team that sweated and toiled. They must be rewarded for the hours and hours of work, the sheer effort, and the successful launch of the project.

The manager’s reward is seeing his team successful and knowing how much work it took to put his team in that position to succeed.

As a father I’ve realized that this same philosophy applies to rearing your child. Too many times I’ve seen parents (mothers and fathers) living their childhood over again through their children. Yelling and screaming during their kids’ ballgames, at coaches, and their own kids themselves, taking credit for academic success, sports victories, and social standing. It’s sad. Just as with management, I’ve come to believe that my real success is seeing my children grow, seeing them thrive, and doing what I can to move away the obstacles to that growth. I can’t do it for them and I shouldn’t be trying to do it.

It’s hard coming to the realization that I’m not longer the star of the show. I admit, I’m still working on becoming the producer, the one who removes roadblocks and let’s the actors win the awards. But when that final production comes together, whether it’s at work or in my family’s life, I’ll look and realize that ultimately their success is my success, and that is the true reward!

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