Never Leave the Game Early

Never Leave the Game Early

Last night I watched a commercial that made an important point.

A business man was attending an event when he clearly didn’t want to be there.  In the bathroom he asks himself “When can I leave?” and his inner voice answers “You aren’t leaving.”  and he repeats out loud “I’m not leaving.”

Just recently this commercial played itself out in real time with a different conclusion for two Vice Presidents I coach. The three of us were attending an executive level strategy meeting with the company’s other Vice Presidents and the CEO and CFO.  I was acting as facilitator for the meetings which had been scheduled to last two hours. But because of late additions of several agenda items, it was apparent from the beginning of the meeting it was going to last longer than two hours.

In anticipation of a longer meeting, I changed my travel arrangements so I could take a much later flight.  Because of their desire to get home, the two Vice Presidents did not.

Of course, this failure to rearrange their travel plans increased the tension in the room as the two VPs tried to speed up the discussion of the agenda items in the hope that four hours worth of discussion could somehow be crammed into two hours of time.  An hour into the meeting the CEO finally voiced his displeasure and told them to stop trying to short cut the discussion of important items.

An hour later two very subdued VPs left the meeting to catch their flights.  The meeting went on without them, important decisions were made without their input and the CEO was an unhappy camper.

In my next coaching call with each of them, we discussed their actions and how important it was for them not to leave the game early because the game went on without them.  Leaving early not only eliminated their input from decisions that impact their operations, it also sent negative signals to the CEO and the executive team about their lack of preparation, commitment to the organization and whether their participation as executive team members was even necesary.  All very bad things that fall under putting their personal interests ahead of the organization’s interests

The Bottom Line:

It’s hard to get invited to the game. Once you have been invited, listen to your inner voice and stay until the game is officially over.  If you don’t, you may not be invited to the next game.

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