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Play Your Roles Well

Todd Davis

September 2017


Have you ever found that success in one area of your life comes at the expense of another area? If so, you may be feeling out of balance or even guilty. Or maybe you’ve neglected a role so long that it’s caused severe relationship damage. Almost everyone I know is challenged by balancing all the critical and important roles they play.


On a recent business trip to New York City, I was lucky enough to see a Broadway play one evening. In line for a ticket, I noticed a play review tacked on the window at will call. The critic had given the lead a 5-star rating: “She authentically embodies the most important qualities of the character.” It made me wonder, what if the important people in my life were to write a review of my performance in each role I play? How many stars would they give me?


Too often, it’s only at life’s meaningful milestones—birthdays, funerals, graduations, etc.—that we deeply reflect on our relationships and the impact our “performance” has on them.  Below are three ways you can balance the roles you play and really focus on the relationships that matters most.


1.      Identify Your Roles. Choose the most important roles you play at work and home. Mine include father, son, executive, business coach, spouse, and volunteer. Focus on no more than 5-7 roles at any given time—the only thing that comes from working on too many at once is mediocrity and frustration.


2.      Determine Your Contribution in Each Role. Try not to think of your roles in terms of “to-do” lists. Roles are never just about what you do, but are ways through which you express who you are. If a critic were to write a review of your performance, how would they describe your character? Would your actions align with your values? Become your own critic and write a statement for each role describing how you want to be in that role and the contribution you want to make. For example,


Parent: I will create a place of unconditional love so my kids can express their full potential.   


Leader: I will develop and prepare our company’s next generation of leaders.


Project Manager: I will be the person others come to when they want it done right.


Friend: I will listen patiently without judgment, be supportive, and forgive when needed.


3.     Get Feedback. Once you have written a statement for each role, identify 1-2 people you influence most when you’re in each role—people whom you trust and from whom you would feel comfortable getting feedback.  Share your contribution statement with each one and ask, From your perspective, what am I doing well? Where am I getting stuck? What might I do more of or less of to earn a 5-star rating? Once you have everyone’s feedback, identify a few actions you will start today to Play Your Roles Well.


When you take a regular inventory of your roles to ensure you’re focused and that you’re making progress toward a meaningful contribution in each one, you will be rewarded with a greater sense of balance, purpose and fulfillment—and your relationships will strengthen as a result. 


Play Your Roles Well is just one of 15 proven practices to build effective relationships at work that I write about in my new book.

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Todd Davis

Todd Davis is the author of FranklinCovey’s newest book, Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work, available for pre-order May 9, 2017, and to be released on November 7, 2017. He is also a co-author of Talent Unleashed: 3 Leadership Conversations to Ignite the Unlimited Potential in People.


Davis has over 30 years of experience in human resources, talent development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. Having been with FranklinCovey for over 20 years, he currently serves as chief people officer, executive vice president, and is on the executive team. He is responsible for global talent development in over 40 offices in 160 countries. As the former director of FranklinCovey’s Innovations Group, Davis led the development of many of the company’s core offerings. He also served as the company’s director of recruitment, responsible for attracting, hiring, and retaining more than 3,500 employees.


He has delivered numerous keynote addresses and speeches at industry conferences, associations, corporate events, and for FranklinCovey clients, many of which are Fortune® 500 companies. His topics include leadership, personal and interpersonal effectiveness, employee engagement, talent management, change management and building winning cultures. 


Davis has served on the Board of Directors for and is a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).