Taking One For The Team

I had a great conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. He is leaving a job for a promotion within the same company. An incredible lady is taking his place. The entire division is in wonderful shape for the future.

But there are some things that could be improved.LeadByExample

My friend has two months left in his current position before he is off to bigger things. He is incredibly well-liked and respected. He is leaving at the top of his game. But what he said to me yesterday really caught my attention: “There are some things that need improvement and that’s what I’m going to be working on before I leave.”

He stated a few things. Some of these things are not pleasant. Some he has in mind might even be troublesome. One or two that he implied may even be war-worthy. And I wondered why this man, who is liked and respected beyond belief by clients and co-workers would choose to end his position after seven-plus years of stellar approval on such a potentially rotten note. And then it hit me when he said the phrase, “Taking it for the team.”

The changes needed to be made. My friend – either through his own genius or through some observation he had made from another mentor of his – realized that the stress-free world that he had built over the past seven years needed to continue in a forward motion after he was gone. Who better to make the changes than him and take any negativity with him thus maintaining the culture of the organization? If the changes – some drastic – were made after he left by the new lady taking his position, then from the very start of her tenure in management she would be tainted with the fallout of the overhaul. Because of what he is planning, she is starting her job fresh, clean slate, ready to build within a positive environment. No baggage. What an incredible act! He is taking on all the sins for change and overhaul, if you will, and taking them with him when he goes.

I can’t express the amount of respect I had for this man prior to this conversation. I’ve always been incredibly proud to call him my friend, as well as an inspiration. My lunch get-togethers with him are always a thing I look forward to for days. But after I left our laughter-filled chat yesterday, I realized how admirable his demeanor and vision are more than ever. There is no ego in what he plans to do in the next two months. The only thing he cares about is leaving his position in a better place and making sure the next generation of management has the tools – and the fresh and clean reputation – to carry forth untarnished to even greater things. That really is “taking one for the team.” From exiting business people, to clergy, to educators, to politicians, to sports coaches, what a great example this man sets. Just when we thought he could not top himself, he is using his last two months to do just that. Knowing him and what I’ve known of him these past five years, I have no doubt that, when he looks back, he will say that within these last two months, he may have done his greatest work to date. Not caring about his own reputation or legacy, he selflessly and fearlessly built for the future and the betterment of those left behind. He did the right thing. Doing the right thing really is “taking one for the team.”

What an example to us all, no matter what life chapter we are currently writing.