Even though Cameron Crowe would later win an Academy Award for writing the screenplay of Almost Famous, as a director his first two movies were critically acclaimed but didn't do huge numbers at the box office.
Then Tom Cruise agreed to play the lead character in Jerry Maguire, a movie Crowe wrote and was going to direct. At the time, Cruise was the biggest movie star and box office draw; he was (and still is) the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, able to call any shot he liked.
A superstar agreeing to do a film is often followed by changes to the tone of the film, the script, the actors, and sometimes even the director. That meant even though Jerry Maguire was Crowe's movie, it could have quickly become Tom's movie.
But as Crowe says on Alec Baldwin's Here's the Thing podcast:
Your friends take you aside and say, "When Tom Cruise says yes, you lose your power. You can't do a thing. It just becomes a freight train that's out of control, and it's a Hollywood freight train and you'll be lucky if you see the back of the caboose."
And you get terrified. And then Tom Cruise calls from England and says, "I read your script. I hope I'm the right guy. Let me come out and read it for you."
I said, "Wait. You're gonna come out here and read it?"
"Yeah," he said. "Why not know it's right for both of us?"
And he was "that guy" from the moment he got off the plane.
Cruise didn't ask to change the script. Cruise didn't implicitly assume control. He became part of the team -- a huge part, sure, but a part nonetheless.
Even with Cruise in the starring role, though, Jerry Maguire was an "in-between" film: part sports, part romance, without a singular focus on either.
Crowe felt it was a good movie, but he didn't know whether audiences would agree. Neither did the studio; testing indicated the film was destined to perform poorly at the box office.
And then Cruise stepped in.
Crowe again from Here's the Thing:
Tom ... came from London to New York and said, "Boys, I'm gonna do some promotion." And he started on a Monday, did Rosie, did Larry King, did everything ... by the end of the week, our numbers were way high.
He basically blew us a kiss, went back to England, and the movie opened. (Meaning it did huge numbers the first weekend.)
It was the brawn of him coming to say, "OK, guys, I act for free. This is what you pay me for. I'm going to give them everything I've got for this movie."
That's why Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise.
And that's how you can be you.
Maybe you do have all the answers. Maybe you do have all the power. But if you really want a team to perform well, don't assume your way is the only way. Ask questions. Actively seek input. Find out what other people need from you.
Make sure you do what is best for what the team needs to accomplish, and for everyone on the team -- not just for you. Even if you're in charge, trust your team.
And then go the extra mile.
Don't do only what is expected. Don't just do what you're supposed to do. Do what needs to be done; as Dharmesh Shah, the co-founder of HubSpot, says, "You need doers of things that need to get done."
He also needed Tom Cruise, the relentless promoter who would help make Jerry Maguire a box office smash.
Ask yourself: What does my team need from me? Better yet, ask them what they need from you.
That's your job.