Monthly Archives: May 2016

Leadership is like playing baseball

Tim Anderson

(Image courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times)

Those of you that know me well know that I am a big White Sox fan. In fact, so big a White Sox fan that I follow their minor league teams and prospects. Yeah, I’m a nerd.

The #1 White Sox prospect, Tim Anderson, is a prospect who can hit well but has been criticized around his raw defensive abilities – specifically positioning. Defensive positioning in baseball refers to how a player faces the batter before the ball is hit, the stance in which he sets himself up to field the ball, etc…

So as I was reading an article on Tim Anderson this morning, I got to thinking (because everything in life can be a metaphor for everything in life)…as leaders, do we position ourselves to be successful? I’m not talking about peacocking or crying for attention – that is the last thing I’m interested in – but how do we set ourselves up to become better in everything we do? Here are a few ideas.

  1. Which way do you face? The ball is coming right at you. Do you turn and run? Do you turn to the right and try to field it at a 90 degree angle? Or do you face the incoming ball? My inclination is to be bold, to face it head on with bravery and tact. This bodes well for big challenges in leadership when it can be scary but we know that our teams are relying on us to field the ball and make a play. Leaders face the action.
  2. What are your joints doing? Bear with me. When a ball is hit hard and bouncing toward you, it can sometimes take unpredictable bounces. If you are stiff-legged and standing fully upright, you run the risk of not being able to react on the spot. Instead, leaders have flexed knees, leaning in slightly towards the batter – ready to react on the fly and to manage the change on the fly as needed. Leaders posture themselves that allows them to be nimble.
  3. What are your eyes doing? Are you looking at the clouds above you? Maybe watching the weird dude in the stands whose hot dog just got ketchup all over his shirt? Or are you focused on the batter – no – focused on the ball and anticipating the angle at which it will hit the bat so you can proactively begin to move towards its destination? Leaders stay focused, enjoying the game, but never losing sight of where they are at and how they can succeed in every situation of the game.
  4. The ball just went past you as you missed making a routine play. What do you do? Baseball players have coaches and instructors who are constantly providing advice, critique, and input in an effort to make players better. Just like baseball players, leaders have input and thoughts spinning at them constantly. So – do you confidently yet open-mindedly receive this input and try to make yourself better? Or do you close off? Leaders can receive other ideas, positioning themselves for lifelong learning.

How are you positioning yourself to succeed today, tomorrow, and 20 years from now?

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Fuel the Fire

Being a manager, in it’s essence, involves a tesselation between deconstructing what is ineffective and reconstructing/rebuilding what can be most effective. Many managers are known for doing the former well, whereas others are known for doing the latter. The key is being balanced and doing both effectively.

Recently, a person close to me and I were talking about how to build others up and elevate others. There are many answers and approaches to this. I appreciated hers.

“I find what my people are most passionate about…and I provide fuel for their fire… and then I teach them how to fuel their own fire.”

Simple but extremely insightful…and something we all can contribute to in some fashion. So, here’s my challenge to you (and myself for that matter): Find 3 people today that you know relatively well. Identify their biggest passion around contributing to your organization or business. And fuel it. Find ways for them to use that skill more. Give them recognition for being awesome. Fuel the fire.

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