Monthly Archives: January 2015

CHEMISTRY OR TALENT – WHICH WILL YOU CHOOSE?

In the 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 must 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 or conference 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 and surround myself with great people. People that not only know more than myself, but people that want to live a life of character, conduct, 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.

In a couple of weeks the 2015 high school, junior college and college baseball seasons will begin all over the United States, and I can tell you there is a major decision that every head baseball coach is facing right now – “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 you want to say it), you better learn to identify your best nine. Regardless of the politics, scholarships, contracts, parents, fans, media 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 in a boardroom, baseball diamond or 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 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 are teachable, coach-able and 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 team and 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?  

Comments?

TWO IMPORTANT KEYS TO AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of Georgia high school and college baseball coaches at the Georgia Dugout Club 2015 baseball clinic. These men are not only coaches, but leaders. Whether they realize it or not, they have great influence on those they lead.

At times, leaders careers are stalled. Granted, the reasons leaders struggle can be for various reasons. In some cases, a leader’s challenges are out of his or her control – I get that. However, most often, I believe leaders make their own future.

Here’s the premise: as leaders, we control our readiness; others control our opportunities.

I know for some of you, this may be discouraging. It shouldn’t be. In my experience, organizations, and the world at large, is searching for authentic leaders, They are starving for the right kind of leaders. One with the right kind of heart to lead. When you and I become that type of leader, opportunities will be abundant.

The question we need to be asking is this… what do we have to do to be ready for those opportunities? Here are a couple of specific things we can do…

1) Think Others First. This is perhaps the most telling leadership character trait. It is at the heart of what is required to be a leader people want to follow. Ask yourself the following question:

Am I a serving leader or a self-serving leader?

If you get this one wrong, the other talents and skills you bring the to table will be irrelevant. People want to follow leaders who put others first. If our motives are questioned, our leadership will be questioned or even dismissed.

Depending on your orientation, this advice may seem exceedingly difficult. The truth is, most of us, deep inside have self-serving tendencies. We suffer from the “ME” syndrome. We must learn to keep those feelings, emotions and intentions in check. We must cultivate the ability to put others first. To do this is a life-long pursuit. Start today! Try to add value to others at every opportunity. Over time, your heart will begin to change.

2) Learn to Lead. This is critical. The heart of the leader matters, but so do skills. If you and I can’t master the basic skill set of leadership, we shouldn’t be given opportunities to lead. The good news, lack of skills is not what derails most leaders – skills are too easy to learn. Let me challenge you to always keep skill development on your radar, looking to close critical gaps.

There are clearly more things we can do to become a leader people want to follow. For now, work to think others first and learn to lead! 

s2s,

Kevin

How are you doing when it comes to having a heart of authentic leadership? 

WHICH KIND OF LEADER ARE YOU?

Last week, I witnessed two kinds of leaders. The first leader berated their team member in front of others, demeaning them, all in ear shot of customers and other team members.

The second leader offered encouragement, help, and was very affirming to the team member they were leading. They came along side to help and serve the team member. You can only guess which leader gained more influence, trust, and respect that day.

Leaders have a tendency to fall into one of two camps. There are those who walk around looking for failure, and looking for what others are doing wrong. Whenever they find it, they smack the guilt party on the hand. These leaders come across as harsh, critical, and negative toward their team. The result is sagging morale, and believe it or not, lower performance. This style of leadership is an indicator of serious insecurity in the heart and on the part of the leader.

Thankfully, there is the second kind of leader. The one who looks to catch others doing right. This leader sees the potential in his team. He is positive, affirming, encouraging, and consistently building others up. This leader has a servants heart. The result is high team morale. With this individual, performance soars. He is confident, secure, and full of trust knowing that their leader wants what’s best for them, not just himself.

There are many things that are beyond your control as a leader. One thing that is not, however, is what kind of leader you choose to be. That is YOUR choice!

If you want to maximize your influence and success, I suggest you become the second kind of leader. Do so, and watch what happens. You will soon look behind you and find an army of people wanting to be on your team.

s2s,

Kevin

Are you more apt to be a positive or a negative leader?

What would your team say? 

THE “D” WORD FOR 2015

Happy New Year!

One word kept coming to my mind the past week or two as I began thinking about my goals for 2015, was the word “Discipline.”  The word feels heavy.  It drips with, “This is going to cost me some effort…Consistent, intentional, disciplined  effort.”

It is the word that has many of us re-thinking our New Year’s resolutions after almost a week.

However without discipline, greatness is out of the question. In 2015, I encourage you to focus on greatness through the lens of discipline.  Disciplined people, disciplined thinking, and disciplined actions.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins says that “the first “action” of a disciplined thinker is to focus on a place where a person has the potential to be world class.” The problem is most of us are not interested in the necessary actions required to be world class.  We are easily distracted when it comes to discipline and therefore we forfeit greatness.

So, what is your distraction? Chances are you have a place where you are tempted to loose your focus and waste away your time.  It’s normal, we all have them.  Recognize your weakness, refuse to go there and refuse to be lazy.  Ask any great coach, scout, team, athlete or leader. There are no shortcuts to greatness!

In the end, a disciplined life will cost you less than an un-disciplined one.  The first will cost you fortitude.  The other will cost you regret.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to be great in 2015.  Because remember; “The pain of discipline will always be (less) than the pain of regret.”

s2s

Kevin

What actions step will you need to take in 2015 to be less distracted to reach your goal?