A friend of mine made an interesting observation a few years ago. He said,
“When you are the leader of an organization, you are treated like the quarterback of an American NFL football team; you get more of the credit - and more of the blame - than you deserve of either one.”
That’s a fascinating insight.
The forceful removal of a passenger from a United Airlines plane this week emphasizes the point vividly. The CEO of United is now under fire for the actions of a few of United’s employees (and for his response - which was likely written for him by other employees). In a direct sense, the actions and words were not his own; in the other sense, he is, in fact, the one responsible – so he gets more of the blame.
By contrast, the CEO of a company with consistent positive quarterly earnings may well be extolled as a business genius, even though she is only one person at the top of the heap of many people who are collectively producing the lauded results on a day-to-day basis.
Certainly, my friend’s analogy of the quarterback position on an NFL team holds up under similar analysis.
The point? When success arrives at the leader’s doorstep, he or she is wise to not take it too seriously (or personally) …and when challenges are preeminent, one is equally well-advised to not take it too seriously (or personally).
Leadership has a price tag – and it has rewards. Both come with the territory.