Leadership Lessons From FRIENDS – “The One With The Football”

Today’s Leadership Lessons From FRIENDS blog features guest writer Liz Davidson. Liz is a writer and designer for GCP Association Services in Pflugerville, which manages statewide non-profit associations. She writes and does layout designs for various organization publications and recently started creating websites for clients. She holds a BA in journalism and history from Texas Christian University. In her free time she enjoys traveling, reading, listening to live music and biking around her hometown of Austin.

Not much can beat a “Friends” holiday episode, and one of my favorites just happened to be on last week on account of Thanksgiving. In “The One with the Football,” the gang decides to play a friendly game of touch football while the turkey cooks. They find out that this was an annual tradition for Monica and Ross when they were kids, until the year their parents banned them from playing after Monica “accidentally” broke Ross’s nose. But they decide to play anyway, and the friends quickly discover just why the siblings were (rightly) banned from the game.

Monica and Ross are blinded by their need to win. Nothing else matters to them except winning the Geller Cup (a hideous troll doll nailed to a piece of wood). And they will step on (or trip) anyone that gets in their way of obtaining that goal. By being so competitive, they have a hard time letting go of even an ounce of control to work successfully as a team. Effective leaders should understand that it’s not about you winning; it’s about your team winning. You should be doing everything in your power to help your team win, not let competition tear your team apart.

A little competition can be healthy. It can push you and inspire you to accomplish things you didn’t think possible. It can motivate and give you a drive you didn’t know you had. But too much competition can hinder you. It can damage your relationships. It can cause you to miss out on chances for teamwork and striving toward a goal together.

Good leadership includes being able to take a step back and look beyond oneself to notice and evaluate the strengths of others. Once you are able to do this, you can use these strengths to the full advantage of the team. In this episode, Rachel is terrible at football, so Ross and Monica don’t really let her play. However, Rachel eventually talks Monica into letting her do something in the game by pointing out that they never cover her. Monica eventually agrees, and, by working as a team, Rachel scores the winning touchdown (well, almost – it ends up not counting on a technicality).

Please check back with us in two weeks as our “Leadership Lessons from FRIENDS” blog series continues! 

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