If you’re a baseball fan, you look forward to spring for more than the flowers and warmer temps. You anticipate spending afternoons and late nights listening to the analysis of the pitcher’s strategy and the crack of the bats, and if you’re lucky, you get to break away a few times to see the great game in person. Even if baseball’s not your sport (which you might want to reconsider), there are many leadership lessons we can take away from the game deemed our nation’s pastime.
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- Talent might get you on base, but teamwork wins the game. Talent is important, no question, but if your team is full of the best of the best talent, but they can’t operate cohesively toward a unified goal, you’ll likely fail. Just like the baseball team that has one superstar pitcher but nothing else to offer, your team working together has far more to offer than one extremely-talented player can.
- It ain’t over, til it’s over. “It ain’t over till it’s over,” was a remark by hall of fame baseball player, Yogi Berra during the 1973 season when the Mets were in last place during the pennant race. Against all odds, Berra helped manage the team back to the top, and the Mets won that year’s division title. Anyone who follows baseball knows, the game is truly not over until the third out of the last inning. This never-give-up attitude holds a true leadership lesson. Follow your projects through and never lose sight of your end goal.
- Don’t be afraid of failure. Baseball is one of the few sports where failure exists 70% of the time. In order to succeed in their sport, baseball players must be resilient, unafraid to fail and willing to try again. Just like a strong leader knows that failure is a powerful source for understanding, and that leading a team that is unafraid to fail can lead to unparalleled levels of success.
- Always be baseball ready. When young kids play baseball, the coach will often yell out the words, “Baseball ready!” before a pitch leaves the pitchers hand to ensure the defense is ready no matter where the ball lands. Strong leaders follow this baseball-ready strategy in their operations as they are focused and paying attention, ready for a pop fly, a line drive and even the occasional bunt.
- Keep your eye on the ball. When a small white ball is being thrown not too far away from your body upwards of 100 mph, it’s a good idea to keep your eye on it – especially if your goal is to actually hit it. Good leaders keep their eye on a proverbial ball that includes performance metrics, external changes and internal challenges to ensure that goals are achieved.
- Home field advantage is real. Road games are harder. The players are out of their element, away from the families and the crowd is likely less than welcoming. The magic that happens in a full stadium of fans is cheering on their team is hard to beat. As in baseball, leaders in businesses know that providing the right office space is key to facilitating productivity, collaboration and success.
Baseball, in addition to being America’s beloved pastime, is a sport that can teach us many leadership lessons. By emulating some of the basic principles that baseball players put into play in every game, you might find that your leadership effectiveness rises up to an all-star level.
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