How Are You Leading Your Team? Pitching a No-Hitter?
Major League Baseball season has just started, but the players have been in training since mid-February. And I suspect that what a baseball team manager goes through when building a team for the season, is not unlike what business leaders experience when building their teams. Not only do baseball players go through rigorous training and evaluation before they even step out on the field, but once there, training becomes ongoing. In fact, more training happens during every game. And if you want better performance from your team, taking a page from a baseball playbook is not a bad idea.
Real-Time Feedback Works
Watching a baseball game is a great lesson for leaders on the powerful benefit of real-time feedback. With every pitch, the pitcher receives immediate feedback from the umpire, the catcher, and the pitching coach. Because of that immediate feedback, the pitcher can make systematic adjustments with every throw – and for every batter. If things are going poorly, the catcher or pitching coach will even walk out to the mound and provide further guidance. The pitcher always knows how he is doing – so when he finds he has been relieved, it might create tension, but it is never a surprise.
Likewise, a good leader provides consistent and regular feedback, offering constructive ideas on how to improve. I call this feedback in the moment. In fact, I had one manager in my career provide me with regular feedback after key meetings and interactions. She didn’t store it up or wait for the “big review.” And because she didn’t wait, I could immediately make performance corrections along the way. Honestly, I loved it.
Know Your Talent and Build a Team
From the minute Spring Training begins in Florida and Arizona, coaches and managers are evaluating players and identifying their strengths. They aren’t looking for an entire team of all-stars or home-run hitters; they’re seeking a variety of strengths and talents that complement each other on and off the field. A good leader knows that it takes an entire team to win. In the book Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia, the authors discuss the importance of capitalizing on different strengths – not only having A-players but also leveraging from the true potential we all have, and how, as leaders, we can cultivate that in our teams.
Baseball managers scout for talent, not only to win during the regular season but to build a dynasty that will continue to win consistently over the long-term. They evaluate players not just for what they can do now but for the potential they bring to the team. Good leaders balance the needs of the day with the needs of the future. This resonates with Daniel Pink’s philosophy, in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, about autonomy, mastery, and purpose being the motivations that will propel us forward. As leaders, we must have our own sense of willingness to do our best and surround ourselves with others who have that same desire to go further.
Baseball is more than just America’s favorite pastime. It’s a metaphor for what it takes to be successful in life and in business.
As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.