Monthly Archives: January 2014

FIVE HABITS OF AN EFFECTIVE LEADER / BASEBALL SCOUT

For over the past two-decades, I have had the privilege to work with, and serve along side, some of the most outstanding professional baseball scouts in the world. The men in the picture below are an example of some of the best baseball scouts in the southeast region of the United States.

Professional baseball scouts give their life to the game they love. They make major sacrifices along the way. For many consecutive days, they leave behind their wife, children, and family members while beating the highways, bye-ways, and bushes for talent.

Scouting directors, crosscheckers, and area supervisors spend much of their time in a car, airplane, and living out of hotels. They work hard. Their sacrifice is second to none. They are often overworked and under appreciated. They are dedicated, organized, and disciplined. They love to compete and seek to find that hidden gem. They find genuine joy in making the dreams of young athletes become a reality.

Scouts Pic

Similar to a scout, below are five habits that an effective leader displays to those they are leading and influencing.

1) S – Steady: Effective leaders do not get to high and to low. When things begin to unravel, they set the tone for the team or organization they lead. They maintain balance in their personal and professional life. They stay calm and focused. An effective leader prioritizes being steady!

2) C – Care: Effective leaders genuinely care about those they lead. They care about what’s happening in the everyday life and family of their team members or staff. A simple call, note, or email of care and encouragement goes a long way. They put others needs before their own. An effective leader prioritizes care!

3) O – Optimistic: Effective leaders see the glass half full, not half empty. They set the tone for the team or staff they lead. No one likes working with or doing life around people who are negative. Tell your team members or staff what they can be or become – not what they can’t. Show optimism! You will always get back what you give. An effective leader prioritizes optimism!

4) U – Unity: Effective leaders champion unity among the team or staff they lead. They don’t tear down others. They unite not divide. They build up and focus on unifying team members for the betterment of the organization. An effective leader prioritizes unity!

5) T – Truthful: Effective leaders tell the truth. They are not afraid to speak truth. Their character and conduct is a priority for them. They are willing to tell the truth regardless. You can’t expect your team or staff to be truthful if you don’t value it yourself. Always remember; A lot more is caught than taught. An effective leader prioritizes being truthful!

Baseball scouts seek to be the best and most effective scout they can be. Take a lesson from a professional baseball scout, and be the best leader you can be for your team, company, or organization. Because in the end, those you are leading and influencing are counting on you!

s2s

Kevin

Using the acrostic of a “scout” above, are there any different effective leadership habits you would add yourself? 

Comments? 

 

FIVE HABITS OF AN EFFECTIVE LEADER / BASEBALL COACH

It has been said; “That an effective leader is just a good coach.” I couldn’t agree more! Many baseball coaches today have no understanding of how to lead. It’s a part of the job that might be the least developed today. Many coaches are outstanding x’s and o’s game time planners. They have the skill to teach a player how to throw a ball, swing a bat, and run the bases – however, if you are a coach, you know there is much more to leading your team than the physical aspects of the game. I am grateful for the coaches in my life who knew the game of baseball inside and out. However, many baseball coaches I had lacked the skill, knowledge, and understanding of how to lead as a coach. Leadership and Coaching go hand in hand!

Baseball Coach Pic

Below are five characteristics or habits that a every leader / coach needs in order to effectively influence and impact his team, players, staff, and organization.

1) C – CARE: We have all heard it before, “People do not care how much you know – until they know how much you care.”  I couldn’t agree more!  Effective leaders / baseball coaches care about those they are leading. I am in baseball today because someone took the time to believe in me. They cared. They listened. They watched. They encouraged. They believed. Because they cared for me, I learned to care for others that I’m leading and influencing as well. Learn to give those on your team appropriate attention and care. It fills their tanks and enhances your trust and relationship with them. Tell them. Show them. A timely phone call, write a note with words of encouragement, a text, an email, an appropriate handshake, a pat on the back. It will go along way in letting those you are leading know that you care about them and their family first and foremost. Great coaches and leaders truly care about those they are leading!

2) O – OBSERVE: When my kids were little they said three particular words more than any others. They were “Look at me!” They would hang upside down from the monkey bars and shout, “Hey Dad, look at me.” Or they would come out of my room wearing my ‘big man’ clothes on their ‘little kid’ bodies and shout in delight, “Hey Daddy, look at me.” People have a natural need to be recognized, noticed, observed. Its natural and it’s needed!  When those you are leading know that their leader is coming to visit, spend time, or watch them – it encourages, validates, and motivates that player or staff person. They are energized. Too often players and staff members feel like they are out there on the front lines all alone. A visit or time spent with them quickly changes that perception. There is an old saying, “You get what you inspect, and not what you expect.” Great coaches and leaders give close observation to those they are leading!

3) A – APPRECIATION:  Recognize the efforts of your players, team, or staff members. There are two words every person, athlete, asst coach, scout, or staff member yearns to hear from their leader / coach. They are, “Good job!” Verbally and publicly appreciate their progress. Not perfection – just progress! I cannot emphasize this enough. Affirm them when they do something correct and they will continue to do it. Have the mind-set that you are going to catch them doing something right – not just something wrong!  In the 1930’s, a young YMCA teacher taught a popular class on getting along with people. He taught what he called, “The big secret in dealing with people.” It was, “Be hearty in your appreciation and lavish in your praise.”  Dale Carnegie later wrote his ideas in what became one of the best selling books in history, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It’s still a best seller today. Your players and staff members will go to great efforts for you when they feel appreciated. You can count on it! People are “appreciating asset”s – when they are “appreciated assets.” As William James noted, “The deepest desire in human relationship is the desire to be appreciated.” Great leaders / coaches show appreciation to those they are leading!

4) C – CHALLENGE: Remind your players and staff members of the big picture and purpose. Let them know how much you believe in them. After my playing career in baseball was over, I wrestled some with understanding my future in the game I loved . I was a scout, however I wanted my life to count for more than just signing players and being a scout. A pastor friend of mine allowed me to get close enough to him to catch his heart to make a difference in people’s lives. Because he had made the effort to deepen his relationship with me, I was able to hear his prayers for people, see him serve people, and watch him agonize over people. He had something I wanted, yet I did not think I had what it would take to make a difference in people’s lives. I will never forget when he said, “Kevin, I believe that God will use you to make a difference in others.” I wonder where I would be today if it had not been for his challenge and encouragement. Everyone needs someone to believe in them. Challenging leaders / coaches say things like; I believe you can become a great leader, player, coach, scout, etc.. Great leaders / coaches challenge and encourage those they are leading!

5) H – HELP: Teach, train, instruct, counsel, guide, aid, resource, and supply what your team members need and when they need it to help them succeed as a leader – so they can develop in to a more effective leader than you were or are. Let me be very clear on this point. The goal of developing a player, coach, or staff member on your team is to develop them to be something and do something. It is not about you! The product of good coaching, through Caring, Observing, Appreciating, Challenging and Helping, is to help in the development of them as a potential new leader. In other words, the goal is to develop effective leaders who will in turn use their gifts, talents, and abilities to develop and multiply more leaders. As a leader, always remember “The Advisory Sandwich:” For every one negative you share with your team, put it between a few positives. Great leaders / coaches make it a priority to help those they are leading!

Commit to becoming a fully developed leader and coach, then watch the impact you will make in life. Those you are leading, coaching, and influencing are counting on you!

s2s,

Kevin

What are some effective habits you use to lead and coach your team or staff? 

Comments? 

 

 

 

 

FOUR ACTIONS STEPS TO “CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION”

Conflict is almost a daily event with any team, staff, or organization. Baseball is no different. Wherever baseball coaches and scouts are gathered, there could likely be strong disagreements or differing of opinions regarding a player or a prospect. Its the nature of the industry. This can occasionally bring about conflict. However, let me be clear, conflict in and of itself is not always a bad thing, unless it becomes personal and attacking in nature towards an individual. When that happens, most leaders have one or two classic ways of handling conflict.

Management or Resolution!

1) Conflict “Management” – Assumes that conflict is a constant feature of group life. The idea is to just keep it within the boundaries, not to eliminate it.

2) Conflict “Resolution” – See’s conflict as an interruption of normal life. The idea is to find a solution, usually a compromise of some sort – and as quickly as possible!

In most cases, neither approach adequately deals with the issue. However, allow me for a moment to suggest a third way of addressing conflict. Its called Conflict Transformation. It see’s conflict not as a problem to be managed or resolved but as an opportunity to strengthen the common life of any team, staff, or organization.

Conflict Pic

Below are four actions steps or suggestions on how to move from a management or resolution mind-set, to a conflict transformation mind-set.

A) View Conflict As Opportunity: We usually see conflict as a problem and, therefore, dread dealing with it. Most people want to run from conflict. They will stick their head in the sand and pretend that it doesn’t exist and hope it goes away. That is poor leadership. Try and see conflict for what it is; a valuable opportunity to look beneath the surface of your team, staff, or organization. Great leaders value and look for opportunity!

B) Identify Primary Issues: Married couples don’t really fight about money. Control is the true concern. Try to look beyond the presenting issue to identify the real problem. Don’t pile on. Don’t go off on some tangent. Stay on task and try to identify the primary issue of the conflict. Great leaders can identify the problem and use wisdom to bring about a solution!

C) Envision A Shared Future: Begin with this question “How can we create something better for both of us?” If you can’t envision your adversary as part of your future, then you can’t transform your conflict. It must be a win-win for both parties. Great leaders continue casting vision. They look ahead, not back!

D) Know When To Walk Away: A conflict cannot be transformed unless both parties are willing to negotiate in good faith. Yes, it takes two! If your adversary is committed to being contentious, you may need to walk away. or at least maintain a holding pattern. Conflict transformation is not the same as capitulation. Great leaders know when to move forward, stay put, or walk away!

Conflict is inevitable on any team, staff, or organization. Expect it!  However, fallout from that conflict can be avoided by opening your mind to see possibilities other than winning or losing. By attempting to implement these four action steps, you may just be able to transform your current conflict and reshape the entire culture of your team, staff, or organization.

Those you are leading are counting on you!

s2s,

Kevin

What would your team, staff, or organization look like if you implemented conflict transformation?

Comments?

“FOUR CHARACTERISTICS THAT A HITTER & LEADER HAVE IN COMMON”

During the baseball off season from scouting, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of coaches / leaders on the subject of leadership. I was delighted when a well known college head baseball coach in the audience cornered me at the end, introduced himself and said, “I really appreciated what you had to say, it stretched my thinking about leadership.” 

This influential college coach (and leader) went on to say how hitting a baseball really does have a lot in common with leadership. Over 30 years ago, while in spring training as a young player in the Red Sox organization, the great hall of fame hitter, Ted Williams took me off to the side and said to me; “Son, the most difficult thing you will ever do in sports is to hit a baseball.” And he was correct!

As a baseball coach and scout, you probably already know hitting a baseball really boils down to four characteristics. Vision, timing, rhythm, and balance. A great hitter and a great leader can truly appreciate the importance of all four – because all four have very common characteristics!

Batting Image

Vision: First and foremost, if you can’t see, you won’t hit. If you don’t have good vision, it is nearly impossible to hit a baseball with any consistency. In leadership, if you don’t have a vision for what you are trying to accomplish, you have no chance of “hitting” your target. In fact, without vision, you don’t even know what your target is. Once you identify your vision, then focus! Think about a great hitter, If he’s focused at a spot on the ball and misses ever so slightly, he can still make contact. However, on the other hand, If he’s focused at a spot on the ball and misses ever so slightly, he may strike out. The more you are able to focus and narrow your vision, the more likely you are to hit and square up your target. Vision is vital in your leadership! Like Lewis Carroll once said;  “If you don’t know where you are going – any road will get you there.”  Without clear vision you won’t be a productive hitter, and you won’t be able to lead others effectively. Your team and leadership influence will be in for very rough waters ahead.

Timing: Great hitters display outstanding timing. They are not to early and are rarely late to the ball. In leadership, often times great decisions are more about timing than they are about your intellect. Just like a hitter must display impeccable timing to square up the ball consistently – a leader must also master the moment they are in. Move too fast and you risk being reckless. You can cause more harm than good. Decide too slow and you’re to late. You can do the right thing, in the right way, but at the wrong time, and still end up with a mess on your hands. Pay close attention to not only what to do…but when to do it! Timing is key to being a productive hitter and a productive leader.

Rhythm: Without good rhythm, a hitter will fail more than he will succeed. The great hitters have easy, fluid bat actions. They make it look effortless, because they have fluid rhythm in their swing and approach. So do leaders. There are times to push, challenge, motivate, encourage, and times to back off. Times to grind through it, and times to get away and rest. Great leaders understand what buttons to push and when to push them. They do it effortlessly. They have trained and developed their leadership skills to the point that they have great leadership rhythm. If you sense your team is tired, maybe one or two off days are in order. If everyone is bored, then raise the “incentive bar” a bit. Good rhythm in hitting and leadership is very important for sustained success!

Balance: As we all know, great athletes and great hitters have tremendous balance. In general, they all have great feet – light and quick! Likewise, the best leaders are really good at staying balanced in their life. They don’t get to high or to low. They are balanced and steady. They model this to those they are leading. They have principles that are “non-negotiable’s” built in to their life – and remain true to them day in and day out.  As a leader, there will never be a time when you don’t feel pulled in many directions. You have several different plates spinning at the same time and you are doing your best to keep them well balanced. The job plate, family plate, children plate, exercise plate, team plate, coaches plate, athletes plate, recruiting plate, upper management plate, administration plate, and spiritual plate. The list of plates can be endless. It happens daily. Expect it. However, always remember that in leadership and life “Balance” is simply learning to operate in the center of the tension. Nothing more and nothing less. If you can narrow it down – balance the following three in order, you will find yourself much more in balance if you do. “God, Family, and Career”  We usually have more challenges in our life and leadership when these three are flip flopped. Balance is vital!

Above all else, CARE!  Remember, those you are leading and influencing really don’t care how much you know….until they really know how much you care!

Vision, timing, rhythm, and balance. Hopefully they will bring you much success in 2014. Not only on your team, but in your life of leadership and influence as well.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

Question: Which of the four (Vision, Timing, Rhythm, and Balance) need more attention in your life in the coming days and weeks ahead?

Comments?

SIX IDEAS TO CHANGE “ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE” IN 2014

Happy New Year! I wish each of you much success in your influence as a leader in 2014.

As a baseball coach, scout, or organizational leader in 2014, one thing that will be constant is change and adjustments. We all know that wins and losses are generally the driving force behind change of leadership in our game of baseball and 2014 will be no different. To develop a winning culture on any team or organization, one must continually change the culture, the vision, and the strategy to accomplish the mission. Is it challenging? You bet it can be. Can it be done? Absolutely!

So, the question “How to Change Organizational Culture in 2014″ is a great question, and one most leaders must chew on and think about – because it is something every leader of a team and organization will eventually face.

Leaders often wonder why they can’t get traction in making the changes they know are necessary. They articulate a new vision. They change a few policies. They tweak this or that. They might even replace or add a few key people in the scouting dept, organization, or coaching staff. However, nothing substantive changes. The problem is that “culture” is largely invisible to those inside of it. It’s like water to a fish or air to a bird. It’s simply the environment we live in. New leaders of an organization face this almost always. Most times, they are immediately aware of the culture. They have done their “do-diligence.” There are many aspects of the organization that they like, however, others they know have to change in order to improve sustainable results.

Experts say that many of these changes often happen quickly, Many times this helps the operating results improve dramatically. Broader changes can usually take longer, however, as the leaders responsibilities grow, they eventually take root as well.

The following are six suggestions or ideas you can take to change the culture of your own  team, organization, or even place of business as you face 2014.

Pic of One Baseball

1) Become aware of the culture: Begin to notice it’s characteristics. Pay attention to shared values among the senior leadership and every day employees, the way people express themselves, and the stories they tell about their success and failures. Is everyone seeing and saying the same things? Is their personal commitment to roles within the organization? How is the moral? Do employees feel valued or not? Find out the pulse of your team or organization.

2) Assess your current culture: Start by creating three lists

A) What should stay?  Write down the aspects of your culture that you like and want to preserve. What are some positives that you like, and do they line up with the mission and vision you have for the team or organization.

B) What should go? Write down the aspects of your culture that must die if you are going to go forward. If it doesn’t line up with your mission and vision of where you want to take the team or organization – Kill it. Get rid of it. The sooner the better. If you practice and prioritize an “open book” philosophy – where everyone knows how the organization is doing, then everyone can work together to improve results. You can’t hold people responsible and accountable for what they don’t know.

C) What is missing? Write down aspects of the culture that seem to be missing or weak. Is individual accountability weak? Are people afraid or intimidated to take personal commitment and responsibility?  Are people afraid to express opinions and insights? Are people pointing fingers and blaming each other for the dysfunctional mess the team or organization is currently in? The list can be endless of what might be missing.

3) Envision a new culture: This can be the fun part. Rather than simply complain about what is – begin to image what could be! Imagine you are working with a blank sheet of paper and anything is possible. What would the ideal culture of your organization look like? Write down as much detail as possible, then narrow it down to 7-10 attributes. Meet with your leadership team and fine tune it. This can become your blueprint of the culture and working atmosphere that you want to create.

4) Share the vision with everyone: The culture will not change unless you cast a vision for something new, fresh, and exciting. You have to articulate it in a way that is compelling. Above all, be specific!  You can’t just do this one time. You must keep casting the vision over, and over, and over. When you start getting sick of hearing yourself talk about it, you’re only half done! Keep speaking it. Keep casting it. Why? Because, as Andy Stanley once said – “Vision Leaks.”  Initially, the only existence vision has is in your words. You have to keep speaking it until it takes root and begins to grow in your organization. Remember, “Speed of the Leader – Speed of the Team.”

5) Get alignment from your leadership team: I’m talking about more than agreement. You need alignment. This is something very different. You want a leadership team that clearly see’s the vision, understands what’s at stake, and is willing to take a stand to make it happen to those in the department, team, or organization. Think of it as a conspiracy. Not in the negative sense, but in the positive. You and your team of leaders are conspiring together to make a positive change that will literally transform and impact your organization. Alignment is vital!

6) Model the culture you want to create:  The culture of a team or organization is the behavior of its leaders. If you change attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors – you will change the culture. You can count on it. If you don’t, you will fail. This is why you must have alignment with your leadership team. If they are not willing to change their behavior and model what you are trying to create, you must replace them. That may sound harsh, but it’s truth. If you don’t, nothing will change in the organization. Be the example. Even if the people above you won’t change, you can change the culture of your department, or team. Remember – “A lot more is caught than taught.”

Is it possible to change the culture of your team or organization in 2014? Absolutely it is! But like everything else in leadership, you must be intentional.

Happy New Year!

s2s,

Kevin

Q: What would changing your culture in 2014 make possible for your team or organization? 
Comments?