Pulling Back the Curtain

August 23, 2019

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” - The Wizard of Oz (1939)

For much of my career I have favored work where I am the quintessential “Man behind the curtain” - the person who makes all of the magic happen and people just get to show up to see and experience the end result. I enjoy working away on a project on my own, perfecting every piece of it until it’s ready to present. No one needs to know what I’ve done or how I’ve done it, as long as it looks and functions perfectly.

The problem with this mentality is that it doesn’t foster teamwork. I have systems I’ve withheld that could be beneficial to others, and I also often end up taking on much more than I should be handling on my own. I am part of a team for a reason and I should be leaning on my team members for support, and vice versa. I’ve treated much of my work like a secret family recipe. Only I know the ingredients, and only I can produce this delicious recipe, when really I should be sharing it with the world.

It’s easy to take on all the work and grind away day after day, but we have teams for a reason. Even in the movie we see the Great and Powerful Oz scrambling to keep up with operating his levers and cogs behind the curtain. One person cannot continue to do it all as it’s only a matter of time before he burns out.

For those who struggle with being a team player, Forbes offers 15 Top Tips to Becoming a Better Team Player at Work. Here are a few to remember:

  • Let others help you: For the folks working behind the curtain, this is the BIGGIE. Not only will you burn out from doing it all, but you’re not the expert in everything (no matter how hard you try to be). Let someone else who is naturally gifted in areas you are not help you.
  • Share your gifts: Just as your colleagues can help you, so too you can share your natural talents with them. Let them tackle the Excel spreadsheet while you design the presentation. Divide and conquer!
  • Flex to others’ work styles: Not everyone has the same work style because not everyone is the same. A colleague may have an insanely messy workspace, but also create the most beautiful artwork you’ve ever seen – whereas your workspace is spotless and you are a computer wiz.

I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by supervisors and colleagues who take the time to pull back the curtain and show me I’m not alone and I absolutely need my team. If you are the man behind the curtain, I encourage you to rip it down. And if you are an employer or simply notice your colleagues spending a lot of time grinding away solo, go check on them. They may not realize the valuable resource they have in you.

About the Author 

+Michelle Genova is a consultant at Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and strategic planning), feasibility studies, recruitment, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Michelle directly at mgenova@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 209.

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