Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Diamond Notes

I don’t know about you but I love baseball in October. Each game is its own mini-drama. Every pitch counts. Every game is do-or-die and has fans like me on the edge of their seats.

As I write this, the National League playoffs are down to two teams – the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. Who…you might ask? Two teams that no one picked to be fighting for a ticket to the World Series. Two teams that we’d all be hard-pressed naming anyone on their rosters. Two teams that are four victories from the World Series. Amazing!

So what leadership lessons can we take from watching the boys of summer play for the championship? Here’s a couple:

- Superstars are not how championships are won. Instead, teams with role players, good systems, and effective leaders are showing how it is done at the highest levels. Witness the St. Louis Cardinals (last year’s champs), the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, and the San Antonio Spurs. Among the Arizona Diamondbacks, the favorite to win the NL series, there are 0 players in the top 20 in Batting Average, 0 in the top 10 in home runs, and 0 in the league’s top 30 in RBIs.Players who care less about themselves and more about the success of the team are providing insights to us all about how to build a winner.

- Champions are fundamentally sound. Colorado finished the year with the fewest defensive errors in the league. Arizona had the best bullpen (highest save percentage). The Rockies had the fewest wild pitches. The Diamondbacks hit the most sacrifice flies. Nothing fancy. Just solid in the basics. That is how champion teams are built.

I spoke to a group of Small Business leaders today. I shared with them these observations and compared their status to that of the Rockies and DBacks. Like these small market teams, they must have an attitude of confidence, a record of competence, and a belief in themselves and their respective team. They must build a team of role players who want to do something great – together. And they must be solid in the fundamentals – in their case under budget, on time, doing their particular thing at a high level of excellence.

So who are you rooting for? And what are you learning when you watch the game? I know that baseball is just a game (Ouch…I can’t believe I just said that!). But there is a business side to the game. And when we look at how these two teams were built (no superstars) and how they perform on the basics, there are plenty of lessons we can all apply.

That’s Leader Business.

1 comment:

Dan Naden said...


Solid points about the DBacks and Rockies. I enjoy watching their brand of baseball where the focus is completely on the team. There is no one large ego that is soaking up the capital, attention, and mindshare.

I happen to be a Cubs fan so I am a bit saddened by their collapse against the DBacks. Perhaps they are watching to see how it is done for next year.

Keep up the good work.

Dan Naden
Naden's Corner