Monthly Archives: September 2015

WHY BEING A GREAT LEADER ISN’T EASY

Last week, while traveling around covering a few college baseball scout days and watching a fall junior college baseball tournament, I observed the leaders at these particular events. I observed how they managed those who were entrusted to their leadership. In addition, I observed how the players and assistant coaches responded to their head coaches leadership.

Recently, I read a story few months back, where a seasoned leader asked a group of young leaders for a show of hands on who had experienced either over-supervision or under-supervision?  Almost every hand went up. However then the question was asked how many did they themselves over-supervise or under-supervise with the people who were now reporting directly to them? Only one or two hands shyly peeked out from the crowd.

So what’s going on?  Well, leaders can sometimes be unaware of what they should and should not be doing. Many are unaware or just lack the skill it takes to lead. This lack of awareness separates good leaders from great leaders. Leadership is hard. It is challenging. It’s a daily process. Great leaders know that leading is a never ending journey that can be filled with treacherous obstacles.

So as a leader, what do you need to know to become a great leader?  Below are a few very important thoughts and ideas to be aware of…

People Are Unpredictable: Those you are leading may not necessarily react the same way each and every time to you. You yourself may also change from day to day. So always using the same style of leadership may not always yield the best results. Instead, great leaders tailor their approach to each task, situation, and individual to effectively meet the needs of those who report directly to them. The following is vital and I can’t emphasize it enough; find out how those you are leading are doing, and what’s going on in their life. Spend time with them and get to know them…and then use that knowledge to better inform how you should lead them. Because people are “wired up” differently, you cannot lead everyone the same.

It Takes Skill: It’s easy to fall into a routine. We are all susceptible to it. That’s why we have habits. However as people are unpredictable, you must also be flexible in your style of leadership to be able to match in each unique situation. The best way to do this is to have a learning-oriented mindset, by being on the lookout for new approaches, practicing other styles of leadership to be more flexible, and keeping up-to-date on what’s going on with those you are leading, your organization, and beyond. A great leader would be wise to always say, “I have so much left to learn in being a leader!”  Always remember; “pride comes before a fall”, so stay humble! Great leaders are always life-long learners.

It Takes Time:  Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t able to immediately improve your effectiveness as a leader. Remember, it’s a life-long journey. It’s about progress NOT perfection. You’re going to make mistakes. That’s expected. As with anything, developing your leadership from good to great takes time and patience to develop. Don’t beat yourself up. However, you should consistently be trying to improve and grow as a leader. Read books, listen to leadership podcast, and spend time with a respected leader, a mature accountability partner weekly. There’s no finish line, but instead a continuous evolution of who you are as a leader, being able to serve those you are leading more effectively with each passing day. Because great leaders serve…not demand to be served.

Keep your hand to the plow and keep leading with integrity of heart.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

Are there any additional ideas or thoughts you would add to this list?

Comments?

A HEART TO SERVE OR A HATCHET OF FEAR…WHICH LEADER ARE YOU?

For the past several weeks I have been encouraging coaches, scouts, and leaders to carefully and ruthlessly guard their heart. It is an area that I desire to work on daily. You will never be the perfect leader because those don’t exist; however you can be a leader that is seeking to make continued progress. Every action we do and everything we say flows out of our heart, and it will ultimately lead to our success or failure in life depending on the attention we give it.

Being involved in professional baseball for well over half my life I have witnessed all kinds of leaders. Some are very good and truly understand what leadership is all about. On the contrary, I have seen others in leadership positions who have no business leading anyone.

Leadership is important. As a matter of fact,  as John Maxwell puts it…“Everything Rises And Falls On Leadership.” Overwhelming statistics prove the leader who is wise enough to lead by displaying a heart for serving those they are leading are most successful. They are respected and those who are under their leadership and influence will climb the highest mountain for them.

Sadly there are leaders who lead by fear and intimidation. These are the ones who care about themselves and what only benefits them. They lead with an iron fist on the right hand while holding a hatchet in the left. The team of people they lead want to see ultimate failure with this type of leader – and will stop at nothing to make sure it happens.

So which leader describes you? Authentic leadership demands accountability and responsibility. Below are 8 characteristics of a leader who leads by fear. If you identify with any on this list make it a priority to address it immediately before it’s to late.

Leaders Who Lead By Fear Have Poor Communication Skills: In addition to having poor non-verbal skills, they make up for it with poor verbal skills. Their speech is loud, mean, aggressive, offensive and often with a condescending tone.

Leaders Who Lead By Fear Are Insecure: They have low self-esteem. They lack the ability to lead in an authentic, affirming manner. Therefore, they lead by using their position of power and authority rather than a position of positive influence. They want to suppress others they are leading and keep them from growing and succeeding because of their personal insecurities.

Leaders Who Lead By Fear Cause Others To Lose Confidence: These leaders are constantly pointing out the shortcomings of those on their teams or departments. They tell them the things they are only doing wrong NOT what they are doing right.

Leaders Who Lead By Fear Ruin Your Nights And Weekends: These type leaders find joy in leaving fireball voicemail messages, text messages or sending damaging emails during your family time or at anytime during the day or night.

Leaders Who Lead By Fear Major On Minor Offenses: Everyone on the team or in the department walks on egg shells because the slightest issue or offense sets off the angry leader.

Leaders Who Lead By Fear Have Dysfunctional Families: We do not live compartmentalized lives. You cannot lead by fear at the office, on your team, or in your department and be a servant leader at home. It is not possible and they don’t co-exist!

Leaders Who Lead By Fear Celebrate Alone: Because they have isolated everyone around them, when the team, department or organization does experience success they celebrate alone. No one desires to celebrate the teams success with them.

Leaders Who Lead By Fear Will Soon Become Leaders Who (Used) To Lead By Fear: They are temporary leaders. They will be in leadership for a short season and soon be gone. Leading by fear is an unsustainable model. When you lead by fear, those around you settle in and wait for you to make a mistake. And because you have shown no mercy or grace, neither will they.

So, which describes you? Are you a leader who leads with a heart to serve those you are leading and influencing…or are you a leader who leads with the hatchet of fear and intimidation to ultimately serve and gratify yourself?  If it’s the latter, change today before it’s to late…or you will soon become the leader who used to lead by fear.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

Are there any other practices of a leader who leads by fear that you would add to the list above? 

Comments? 

 

FIVE HABITS THAT “EFFECTIVE LEADER’S” CAN LEARN FROM BASEBALL “SCOUTS”

Last week began the fall, college scout day tour in the Carolina’s. This is where college baseball programs designate a specific day to invite professional baseball scouts in to evaluate their players.

Over my professional baseball scouting career I have had the privilege to work with, and serve along side, some of the most outstanding baseball scouts in the world. From California to Texas, to Florida and every state in-between there are outstanding professional baseball scouts who have impacted major league baseball.

The men in the picture below are a visual example of some of the best amateur baseball scouts in the southeast region of the United States. I’m honored to not only call these men scouting colleagues in our profession – but friends.

PC - Scout Day

Professional baseball scouts give their life to the game they love. They make major sacrifices along the way. For many consecutive days and weeks they leave behind girlfriends, wives, children and close family members while spending countless hours on highways, interstates and airports in search of amateur and professional talent.

Scouting Directors, National Crosscheckers, Regional Crosscheckers, Professional Scouts and Area Scouting Supervisors spend much of their time in automobiles, airplanes and hotels. They work hard. Their sacrifice is second to none. They can be under appreciated and rarely get the level of credit they deserve. They are dedicated, organized, focused and disciplined. They love to compete and seek to find that hidden gem no one else likes or has found. They find genuine joy in making the dreams of young athletes become reality.

Using the acrostic SCOUT; below are five habits that an effective leader displays to those they are leading and influencing. Put in to practice these five habits and watch what happens to your leadership with those you are influencing…

S – Steady: Effective leaders do not get to high and to low. When things begin to unravel, they set the tone for their family, team, department or organization they lead. They maintain a healthy balance between their personal and professional life. They stay calm and focused, making sure to keep the high’s and low’s in check. An effective leader prioritizes being steady!

C – Care: Effective leaders genuinely care about those they lead. They care about what is happening in the everyday life of their family, team members or staff. A simple call, text, note, card or email of care and encouragement goes a long way. They put others needs before their own. They don’t hand it off for their assistant or others to handle, but take ownership of it. An effective leader prioritizes care!

O – Optimistic: Effective leaders see the glass half full – not half empty. They set the tone for their family, team or staff they lead. No one likes working with or doing life around people who are continually negative. Tell your family, team members or staff what they can become – not what they can’t. Speak life in to them. Show optimism. You will reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow. You will always get back what you give. An effective leader prioritizes optimism!

U – Unity: Effective leaders champion unity among their family, team or staff they lead. They don’t tear others down in private or behind their backs. They unite not divide. They bring the team together. They build up and focus on unifying their team members and staff for the betterment of the organization. An effective leader prioritizes unity!

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

Baseball scouts desire to be the most effective scout they can be. Take a lesson from a professional baseball scout and be the best leader you can be for your family, team, department and organization. Never perfection…but always making progress. Because in the end, those you are leading and influencing are counting on you.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

Using the acrostic “S.C.O.U.T.” above, are there any different effective leadership habits you would add yourself? 

Comments? 

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

Last year, during the off-season from scouting, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of coaches and leaders on the subject of leadership. I was delighted when a 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 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 baseball prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, Hall of Fame player, 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.”  He couldn’t have been more correct!

As a baseball scout, I know that hitting a baseball really boils down to four priorities. Vision, timing, rhythm, and balance. In the same way, a great hitter and a great leader can truly appreciate the importance of all four – because all four have very common characteristics!

Chipper Jones

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 do not 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! Lewis Carroll said;  “If you don’t know where you are going – any roawill get you there.”  Without clear vision you won’t be a productive hitter, and as a leader, 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 have 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 not only being a productive hitter – but an effective 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. They have fluid rhythm in their swing and hitting approach. So do leaders. There are times to push, challenge, motivate, encourage. There are 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 a few 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 convictions and 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, athlete 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 in life “Balance” is simply learning to operate in the center of the tension. Nothing more and nothing less. If you can, narrow it down to the following three in order. You will find yourself more balanced if you do. “God, Family, and Career.”  We will 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 these four priorities will bring you much success professionally and personally as you seek to be a well rounded, effective leader.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

Which of the four (Vision, Timing, Rhythm, and Balance) need more attention in your life?

Comments?