I am not a baseball aficionado but I understand factors that usually lead to individual and organizational success. As I binged on the aftermath of the World Series and learned about the Chicago Cubs, principles and concepts came to mind:
- Have a vision. Tom Ricketts, owner of the Cubs, wanted a winning team, to break the supposed curse of the Billy Goat, to win the National League pennant, and the World Series.
- Act on that vision. Ricketts hired Theo Epstein to be President of Baseball Operations. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, thus ending the supposed curse of the Bambino. Epstein was General Manager of the Red Sox and given credit by many for ending the curse. He had credibility. The best predictor of future success is past success.
- Treat people well. Describing his hiring interview with Epstein, Ricketts later said “We talked about how you treat people and the right people will create success” (Passan). Hire well and grow your people.
- Lead with integrity and transparency. Ricketts on Epstein: “He’s honest with everybody everywhere he goes” (Passan). Epstein was upfront that turning the Cubs organization around would take time. There would be lean years. Culture change is not easy.
- Formulate a solid plan. Epstein sought young players, players with character. He wanted players who could hit and were good people. The plan was to grow talent.
- Focus on long term success, not short term. Epstein focused on the long term, building an organization that would win and continue to win. He was building a capability that would be sustainable.
- Develop and use analytics. Epstein hired “brilliant minds to fill the player-development and analytics department” (Passan). The database helped make sure the right people were in the right situations and could make good decisions.
- Create leadership, not just leaders. Day (2000) suggested leader development focuses on the individual; leadership development focuses on building human capital where all can lead. As Mike Golic put it, you don’t need team captains, you need informal leaders. In the weather break in Game 7, Jason Heyward, a respected team member, stepped up and led a group meeting reminding the players how special the Cubs were. When the team returned to the field, they were highly motivated. I am reminded of Urban Meyer's phrase, "when you get leadership, that's when magic starts happening."
- Celebrate the moment. It is easy to celebrate when you have just won the World Series. My guess thought is in the past week, month, or year, there have been moments in your day worth celebrating – a personal achievement, a team success, an organizational success. Savor these moments.
Day, D. V. 2000. Leadership development: A review in context. Leadership Quarterly, 11: 581–613.
Image, “Epstein talks to reporters before the 2016 NLCS Game 6” by Arturo Pardavila III. Image cropped to reduce size. Obtained from: http://bit.ly/2fJsT3W
Used with permission: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
© John Ballard, PhD, 2016. All rights reserved.
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