by tom on April 22nd, 2011
I’m a great baseball fan and while I don’t know all of the in-depth strategies and intricacies, I appreciate the game as the skill levels of hitting, pitching and fielding. There was a story in the Houston Chronicle this week by Richard Justice that was complimentary of the ownership and leadership of the Colorado Rockies and how, as an organization, they have taken the slow but steady path to excellence. Ironically, one of the reasons for the article was that the Houston Astros team is for sale and the perspective of the writer was clearly to make a point to any prospective new ownership about the right way to build an organization. To me the story has application to business performance. There is a corollary between leadership attributes in sports and those in business when those attributes include purpose, vision and values.
The story draws a contrast between teams and organizations that try to win at the game and remain competitive by paying free agents a lot of money in hopes of immediate success, only to find out that it doesn’t result in better team performance in the long run while enduring the burden of a payroll that revenue does not support.
The article talked about the decision by the Rockies that included a visionary promise to keep their eyes on even a larger goal than the next ballgame, i.e., in business the corollary is a vision beyond next quarter’s results. So, during this long but steady course they embarked on, there were countless tough losses, small crowds and demands that “the bums be thrown out on their ears”. Despite that, the Rockies stayed the course. At this time they have the best record in the major leagues.
The part of the story that got my attention was the comment from the Rockies General Manager, Dan O’Dowd, who said “I know it sounds corny, but our scouts try to evaluate character as well as talent. We just don’t think you can have a team environment without players of high character. You have to create a team culture. Our guys play for one another. They hold one anther accountable. I’m not trying to exaggerate. If you come around here, you’ll feel that, too.”
Business leaders: for a better won-loss record and the possibility of championship seasons, hire people who share your purpose, values and vision. And, they are more likely to stay as well.