Watching the USA Women’s Volleyball Team get the bronze medal in the Olympics got me all revved up. I’m sort of a casual watcher of sports these days, not a rabid fan of any team. But, I tell you what, watching those volleyball matches got me excited with every spike, block, and dig!
Volleyball has been my favorite sport to play from my 20’s till just about 5 years ago, when my knees couldn’t hack it anymore. I worked hard to become a setter, who I believe is the quarterback on a volleyball team. Setters get the second hit 99% of the time, and will do anything to dish up a nice set for a spiker to get a kill. They call the plays based on who is the hot hitter and what the opposing blockers are doing. They dart around, contorting their bodies with awkward jumps and dives, to give their teammates opportunities. And they get very little of the glory, unless you are an aficionado of this sport.
The setter is just like a leader on any work or volunteer team. “Athletic” or competent, the leader runs the offense of crafting and carrying the team vision. He/she knows when to step up and lead or when to set another teammate up to lead, putting direct reports in roles where they will be successful. Leaders, like setters, take some lumps, when adversity hits the team, but have the emotional intelligence to absorb the hits and continue forward. Setters get “assists” for their role in a spiker’s kill, but just as the glory goes to the walloping hitters, great leaders humbly avoid the limelight and shine it on those front-line workers who deserve the kudos. Without the leader or setter, the team falls apart because everything rises and falls on leadership (Maxwell).
The next time you get a chance to watch competitive volleyball, focus on who is touching the second hit of every volley and be amazed at the leadership qualities you see on the court and how you can apply them in your role at the top.
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