Sometimes It’s Better To Be A Role Player

I've been thinking a lot recently about role players. When you think about it, these folks are very crucial to any REAL team. You know what I mean, a group of people who know the goals are bigger than the individual desires of each team member. Well, I digress, the role players are crucial. Most significant victories would never happen without them.

There is a certain implication that comes with being a role player, namely you must be willing to be in the background or behind the scenes. Humility is the implied character trait here. This is difficult. Our culture (business, media, church, and maybe even family) doesn't laud humility. So it can lead you to wonder where's the spotlight on your achievements. Maybe you don't need the limelight. Maybe the limelight is overrated.

You need to evaluate hard what the coaching staff looks like in your organization. If it's weak, then time to reconsider. Effective organizations know the importance and live out the importance of strong coaching. They know that the best coaches know how to get the best out of each player. The best coaches take the time to understand each individual and then find the place where they can excel. Again, the application applies to multiple places in life. So whether you're a reserve guard for a team in the Sweet Sixteen or a business analyst in a Fortune 500 firm, you've got to have a coach that knows you and you have to have the humility accept not a lot of lime light if your best suited to be a role player.

We all need to find that place where we're satisfied with our role. Even if it's the role of a role player.


  1. Eric, your post caused me to think back to my cross country days in high school. As a team, we used to run “caboose” drills. This would involve the entire team running in one single file line. The last man in line was the caboose. His job was to run past everyone else and take the lead spot. After he made it to the front then the next “caboose” would make his move to the front. This drill wasn’t much of a challenge for the fastest guys, but it was always tough for me! The lesson I learned from this is that the last man on the team plays an important role. He or she must seek to improve so that they can bump up the baseline performance of the entire team. This helped me to realize that we are only as strong as our weakest team member. Take it from a long time caboose guy, every player makes a difference!

  2. Excellent insight! As a famous college coach once said, “If I surround myself with superior coaches, and each one does their job, my job is much easier”. Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant understood a role player not only in his coaching staff, but in his players. Maybe that is why he won 6 National Championships.

  3. The Bible is full of people who played the supporting role – people like Jonathan’s armor bearer; Joseph, supporting Mary as she carried our Lord; Joanna and Susanna, supporting Jesus and the disciples; Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus who refreshed Paul’s spirit – the list could go on and on, many whose names we may never know, but He (the ultimate coach) knows exactly when and where to use them.

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