Monthly Archives: November 2013

A TIME FOR THANKSGIVING AND REFLECTION

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, its hard to know just where to begin? There is so much to be thankful for this holiday season. However, I’m going to do my best.

1) Thankful for God’s strength and guidance in my life. Without Him, I would have no hope.

2) Thankful for my wife, Valerie. She makes our house a home. She is not only a blessing to me, but to so many others as well. A truly self-less person. Love you, Val Burrell!

3) Thankful for two great kids!  Zachary and Aynsley.  Both are better people than I could have ever dreamed or imagined. Both have a very bright futures ahead of them. Can’t wait to see what impact their life will have on others in the years to come.

4) Thankful for a great dad and mom who loved us unconditionally. The example they lived in front of us helped shaped who I am today. Your commitment to marriage and each other for the past 55 years…well done, dad and mom. Thank you!

5) Thankful for an older sister that I have seen grow as a person, and to watch she and her husband become a great parents.

6) Thankful for loving in-laws who exemplifies what a commitment to family and marriage is all about. Happy 64 years of marriage!

7) Thankful for my employer, the Chicago White Sox. Could’t think of a better place to work. Thankful for a great owner who cares about his employees, and for those who lead our scouting department. Thank you!

8) Thankful for my years getting to lead my impact athlete small groups. To invest and mentor these young athletes during the winter time has been priceless over the years. These athletes have inspired me and challenged me to lead with integrity of heart. To see what these young athletes have gone on to accomplish in life has been very rewarding,

9) Thankful for my men’s impact small group. Leading these outstanding men who model character and integrity is an honor. Getting to invest in these guys weekly, and watching them grow in their leadership skills is worth every minute of it. Keep “Being and Building” gentleman. Thanks!

10) Thankful for some solid men and mentors who have strategically invested in my life through the years, and who have believed in me while growing up. Dale Burrell, Mike Linch, Ike Reighard, and Ken Adams – Thank you!!!

11) Thankful for some quality friends in baseball. Thank you for being there for me. I’m grateful to call you my friends. You know who you are. Thank you!

I hope each and every one of you and your families have a great Thanksgiving Day!

s2s,

Kevin

Next s2s leadership blog will be on Monday December 2nd. 

LEADERSHIP FROM THE “HEART”

I read a wise quote recently from “Joe the Janitor” in one of my favorite leadership books entitled “Lead for God’Sake” which my good friend, Todd Gongwer wrote.  Joe states; “Focus with balance. Most divine appointments in life arise in the midst of our pressing pursuits. Our response reveals much about the deepest motives of the heart: Pursuit or People”? 

As you know, in any profession or occupation, the true motives of the heart are on display for all to see. In the game of baseball, we often see scouts seeking to climb the organizational latter in a scouting dept or asst coaches striving to get that head coaching job in high school, college, and even pro ball at any expense; even sadly, sometimes even at the expense of others. Let me be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to better your family, and career in life. However, when it is accomplished with motives from the heart that are purely selfish and/or to promote only self, then there lies the issue of the heart for all to see. I’m reminded of the proverb that say’s “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Every decision and choice we make is rooted from the heart. 

So, the question begs; what are the characteristics of a heart healthy baseball coach or scout who is a leader? I believe there are three essential characteristics that every heart healthy baseball coach or scout must have in order to effectively influence and impact those they are leading.

1) Surrender: A heart healthy baseball coach and scout who leads, must be willing to change. They must live a life that is surrendered to putting others needs first. Instead of being selfish – they are selfless! Their heart is surrendered to serving their coaches, staff, or players they are leading and influencing. They surrender and realize that life is not about them.

2) Teachable: A heart healthy baseball coach or scout who leads, is always one who is willing and wanting to learn. They are a life-long learner. A teachable baseball leader is a person who knows there is always room for improvement and change. They prioritize not displaying the “I know all that” attitude. Teachable baseball leaders know that they can always learn something from other staff, coaches, and even the players they are leading and influencing.

3) Accountable: A heart healthy baseball coach or scout who leads, is a leader under accountability and is always connected to another leader for support and encouragement. Iron sharpens iron!  We’ve all seen many leaders in baseball crash and burn because they had no accountability systems or structures built in to their life for accountability and support. Every baseball coach and scout needs to go the distance in life surrounded by others who will not tell them what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. They are open to not only encouragement, but correction as well.

Why not set aside some time this week and work on your heart.  Why?  Because failing the heart of leadership means failing as a leader. Guard your heart by being Surrendered, Accountable, and Teachable. If you do, you will be a leader that impacts and influences others for a life time.

s2s,

Kevin

What are some specific ways a baseball coach or scout can work on becoming a more effective heart healthy leader to those they are influencing? 

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LEADERS – “CHEMISTRY”

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins says that great organizations and teams begin with disciplined people. The great ones, according to Collins, are all led by “Level Five Leaders” who are characterized by professional will and personal humility. 

Whether you are a head baseball coach or a departmental leader, rather than deciding where you want to take your team, your first decision should be to make sure you have “the right people on the bus.”  Get the right people on the bus, put them in the right seats, and you will finish in a great place. If it’s drafting the right players that fits the organizational strategy, or you and your coaching staff selecting the right players to help you win a league championship, the goal is to make sure you get the right people that develop outstanding team chemistry. 

Through the years, one of my biggest goals as a leader has been to try to surround myself with great people. People that not only know more than me, but people that want to live a life of character, integrity, and influence. These are the ones you want to do life with, go to battle with, and win with.  

As a professional baseball scout, it’s easy to say that I love baseball. In my opinion, it’s a great sport and environment to learn and teach leadership. Through the years, I have had the joy of teaching and coaching baseball players. From experience, I can tell you there is a major decision that every baseball coach faces . . .Do I play my nine best, or my best nine?

A head coach in baseball faces the same temptation that other leaders face. Namely, to play their nine best. That can be a mistake!  If you want to accomplish your mission, hit your target, or win the game (however way you want to say it), you better learn to identify your best nine. Regardless of the politics, contracts, or any other outside challenge involved. 

The “best nine” is simply a metaphor for identifying the people who work best together or play best together, whether on a baseball diamond or a scouting staff. Most people refer to this “team concept” as having chemistry with one another – and it’s vital!  It’s the difference between having a championship team and organization, or not. 

In baseball or business, teamwork defeats talent. Don’t misunderstand. If you are a baseball scout or coach, you know that tools and talent matters, and you should do everything you can to scout, recruit, and develop great talent. However, life is too short to surround yourself with people or players who are a drain on the process and your team.  Build a team of people that you love to work with, and you will find your work much more energizing and rewarding. However, in the end, if you have to choose. Choose chemistry! 

Do you want to take your leadership to another level. Then start by playing your “best nine.” You won’t regret it! 

s2s,

Kevin

What traits do you value and look for when building a team?  

Leave a reply.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LEADERS – “COMPETENCY”

Someone once stated: “Speed of the Leader – Speed of the Team”  I couldn’t agree more!  Competency is defined as, “The intuitive knowledge and ability to do something successfully or efficiently.”  Have you ever seen a successful assistant baseball coach or area scout bomb out on being a head coach or scouting director when they got the opportunity? That can happen because there are different competencies needed for being an assistant coach and area scout, than for a head coach or directing & managing a scouting staff. When an incompetent individual gets hired or promoted, they will get frustrated, and everyone around them does as well. Moving an unqualified person into leadership is always a bad move!  We have all seen people placed in leadership roles who were not yet ready to lead a team or department. When this happens, everyone ends up frustrated.

When selecting the right baseball leader for your team or organization, it is always important to look for people who have a certain level of competency. They need to be people who are wired to give leadership to those they are leading. The word “Competent” is front and center. You want a leader with character, but also skill.

Lets stretch our thinking here for a minute. A very big missing ingredient in becoming a quality baseball leader on a team or organization is the ability to surround yourself with people who have quality strengths.  Be honest with yourself and hire someone smarter. Drawing on the strengths of others is the mark of a great leader! Competency answers the “Can this coach or scout get the job done” question. Are they proven? Are they skilled? Are they properly trained? Do they have the required relational skills? When I think of a competent leader being a responsible leader, I think of five important ingredients.

1) Faithfulness: A leader in baseball who does not “show up” everyday and give their best to his team or organization is not a competent leader. They are faithful to the process. No matter how gifted you are in your ability as a baseball coach or scout. Being faithful to “show up” everyday is essential to those you are leading.

2) Teachable: A leader in baseball who thinks they know it all or feels like they have all the answers is not a competent leader. It is a must that a leader remain humble in order to remain teachable. Be teachable, and those you are leading will climb Mt Everest for you.

3) Passion: A leader simply has a deep passion to lead! A baseball leader cares about the players, staff, and families they are leading. Either you have passion or you don’t. Passion cannot be taught. A talented baseball coach or scout is important, but passion trumps it every time. If you can combine the two, then you have the potential for greatness.

4) Unified: A leader in baseball who is not unified at the end of the day with his players or staff will not be a responsible leader. It’s a must that everyone is on the same page. You can respectfully disagree regarding a player, potential prospect, or staff member, however at the end of the day unity is essential to thrive as a team or organization.

5) Team: A leader in baseball is someone who sees the whole as more important than one individual. Anyone who is going to join your team or organization better bleed what you bleed or you are asking for trouble. Team and organizational leaders know how to bring people together rather than pulling them apart. Their focus is simply on whats best for the team or organization. They make it a point that all egos and agendas are checked at the door to the office or clubhouse. They protect the culture of their team. If it doesn’t benefit the team or organization, it’s not welcome.

So, the question is simple. What kind of team leader are you? Baseball teams and organizations are looking for competent and responsible leaders, not necessarily superstar leaders. As you look back over the list above, I encourage you to ask yourself how you are doing? Because those you are leading are depending on you!

s2s

Kevin

What five traits above are you still working to develop?  Thoughts?

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LEADERS – “CHARACTER”

I read a quote the other day from John Maxwell that says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”  That statement is true for every baseball coach and scout. If you have a strong leader, you will have a solid team or organization. On the contrary, if you settle for a weak leader, your team or organization will be on shaky ground – you can count on it! One cannot over estimate the priority and importance of selecting the right type of leader when building a team or organization.

So, the question begs, what are some essentials in selecting a qualified leader? Remember, we are not looking for the “perfect leader” for your team or organization because those don’t exist, however we are looking for the “right” leader.

I believe right leaders are ones who are demonstrating the right Character, Competency, and Chemistry. Over the next few blogs we will examine each one a little closer. Today, lets look closely at “Character”!

Qualified leaders are leaders with strong character. In addition…

1) They are authentic when they are around their peers. Whether in the dugout, in the stands, or in the clubhouse. They are steady.

2) They are the same person at home, work, or on the field of competition when no one else is looking.

3) They are trustworthy, honest, and they seek to keep their word to those they are leading on the team or in the organization. They honor what they say.

4) They practice what they preach to the team they lead. They walk the walk, they don’t just talk the talk.

5) They serve their team members they are leading. They are not about their needs, wants, or desires first. They put other team members needs before their own.

6) They manage their time – they don’t allow their time to manage them.

7) They seek to invest and reproduce their life in to those they are leading. They truly have a strong desire to see other players, coaches, and scouts on their team succeed. They desire to leave a legacy when their time in the game is over.

As you read over a few of these characteristics of a leader who leads with the right character, I hope you will evaluate your own leadership today. Remember, not perfection – just progress. If you do, it just might empower you to be the best leader you can be! Be your best, because others on your team or organization are counting on your leadership!

s2s,

Kevin

Which of these do you struggle with and which are you strongest in?