5 Ways to Avoid a Sense of Privilege
Privilege is the ability of some people in society to take advantage of resources and opportunities that are not available to everyone else. And when this occurs within the framework of a team, it tends to splinter everyone into factions.
Last week, the Seattle Seahawks held a reunion of players from their 2013 Super Bowl-champion team.
It wasn’t formal with introductions and announcements but rather a gathering of old teammates to watch their former quarterback, Russell Wilson, who was now suiting up for the visiting Denver Broncos.
The NFL schedulers made this one of the big prime-time games of the first weekend, and Wilson's former teammates assembled to show their support for the Seahawks.
After Seattle's win, many shared cryptic posts on social media expressing their true feelings.
They suggested that during his time in Seattle, Wilson had become privileged, bigger than the team in some senses. He lost the connection with his teammates, and yet because of his great play, the Seahawks still catered to his every need.
By allowing himself to become privileged, Wilson killed the camaraderie with his teammates. The many current and former players on the sideline for the game respected and admired Wilson, but deep down, wished he would have never changed. Success, however, frequently leads people and teams to shift their ways.
Privilege kills camaraderie because it creates a divide between people. It is a privilege to be born into a wealthy family or to have parents who can afford to send their kids to private school. It is a privilege for someone not to have to worry about their next meal or not having enough money for rent.
Privilege is the ability of some people in society to take advantage of resources and opportunities that are not available to everyone else. And when this occurs within the framework of a team, of a culture, it tends to splinter everyone into factions.
Wilson allowed himself to become a "high maintenance" teammate, looking for special treatment beyond his compensation package. His teammates never resented his contract; in fact, they applauded his new deals because winning helped them increase their finances. What causes internal problems is never the contract, though; it is always the double standards demanded by the person seeking privilege.
So how can we as leaders stop this from happening?
- It starts with US as leaders. We cannot have a double standard. What is good for the team must be good for the leader. We cannot eat separate meals, have private rooms, and most of all, not value everyone's time.
- Don't allow the best player to remove him/herself from the team. Work on relationships within. Once the best player isn't involved, it's too late.
- Demand more from the best player — and coach him/her in front of the team. Don't shy away from coaching everyone.
- Praise the entire team, not the star player in every situation.
- Make the "star" player understand the importance of his support toward his teammates. Never has one great player carried a team to a championship. But one great player with the help of others can. It's never about giving money or expensive watches; rather, it's about developing genuine relationships.
We all want to coach and lead great talent. However, we cannot allow the player's greatness to use his privilege to create poor camaraderie within the team.