Everyone has an audience that they are trying to impress.
As a leader or as a teammate on virtually any type of team, though, what few may realize is that WHO you seek to impress has a profound influence on what you do and how you choose to do it.
Last Sunday, in church, our choir sang as they do every week to begin the service. And while I watched them sing, I suddenly realized that they were not singing to me. They were not singing to the congregation. They were singing as an act of worship to their God.
And that moment of clarity caused me to consider a couple of things.
First, I realized that we are all performers, but not always for an obvious audience.
When the choir sang, it wasn’t for me – I enjoyed it, but it was intended for someone else.
Athletes may want to perform well for each other, or for their coach, or to impress a girlfriend – and while the hundreds of fans in the stands may enjoy watching, the athletes’ audience was likely a far more specific set of eyes that are important to them.
Second, I realized that the more aware we are of who our intended audience is, the more impressive and intentional our efforts become.
Students may seek to impress their teachers or parents.
Salesmen may seek to impress their sales manager or other salesmen.
Teachers may be trying to impress their principal or faculty members.
We all have an audience that we are performing for. But few of the people on your team may be fully aware of the impact that decision has on their performance.
In his 1972 album Garden Party, Ricky Nelson sang that “”you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” While that sounds nice, it is very seldom something people ever seek to do – for most of us are aware that our actions have consequences, and we are usually quite intent that our efforts please those who are most important to us.
If you are more interested in impressing your family or your girlfriend than your teammates, then that is a powerful piece of information for whoever may need to motivate you.
Once you know WHO it is that someone is trying to impress with his or her actions, it provides a valuable key to understanding why they do what they do – and also to knowing how best to ensure their best efforts in the future.
And a difficult truth is that we are all on a number of different teams at the same time.
We are part of a business, part of a marriage or relationship, part of a group of friends, part of an extended family, part of a club, and perhaps also part of a church. Those affiliations all desire our attention, and carry different weights when it comes to who we most want to impress with our investment of time or resources.
So, who is the audience you and your team are most focused on impressing?
Can you identify the individual or group that you are MOST intent on pleasing with your efforts?
Is it someone who cares for you and wants you to succeed?
The trouble with youth is that often they are sometimes more easily swayed by wanting to impress the wrong person. Instead of making good decisions to impress a parent or coach or positive role model, they may find themselves making poor decisions and doing dangerous things to impress people who may lead them to a far less desirable future.
But it isn’t only young people or athletes who experience this choice.
Each day you and the people on your team decide, unconsciously or not, who you are trying to impress, and your behaviors are a direct result of what you feel your intended audience would most appreciate.
It is certainly not my place to suggest who YOUR audience should be…
But it IS important that you become more aware of who your actions are intended to impress.
And it IS important to become more aware of who your teammates are seeking to impress.
And it IS important to realize that this information is not shared easily. Learning something this significant, even about yourself, requires effort and introspection.
Once you are armed with that awareness, your efforts will be far more impressive and heartfelt. Knowing WHY you do things, and WHO you are trying to impress by doing them, will energize you and ensure that you are far more focused in your performance.
Learning something this significant about your teammates demands that you spend time building deeper relationships that will eventually offer a more clear understanding of what is truly important to them. But part of your team development is knowing who is on the boat and what will make them row harder.
Who are you trying to impress?
If you truly do build deeper relationships with your teammates, if you truly are a strong leader who encourages others and exhibits great integrity, perhaps your name will eventually be listed as an answer to this question by those who you influence and work with…
If you liked this article, you will want to request free access to Sean’s Teamwork Toolbox – over 50 useful handouts and activities for smart team leaders!