A baseball game is a team sporting event made up of individual performances. A successful baseball team requires a diverse group of individuals with complementary skills. Similarly, a business team should consist of individuals who bring unique perspectives, talents, and expertise to the table.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the individuals that compose a baseball team.
The Owner and General Manager
The owner is responsible for establishing the organization’s identity, culture, and vision.
The general manager is responsible for identifying, recruiting, and hiring players that not only have the individual skills and talents to be successful players; but who are also people that fit the organization’s culture and will play well with the other team members. At the same time, the GM must identify and build a coaching staff that will work together towards a common vision throughout a long season.
Baseball coaches provide decision making so that the players can focus on the game. The coach emphasizes the importance of trust, communication, and mutual respect among team members. They decide every day who will start, who will play, and what players give the team the best chance of winning, both that night, and with the entirety of the season in mind. They make daily personnel and tactical decisions that put players in position for success or failure. The coach then often takes the blame for failures and allows the players to take the credit for success.
Some players perform better than others. They just do. These starters give the team the best chance to win when they have the most playing time. These players are counted on with the most difficult assignments, because the coaches have the highest level of confidence that the team will succeed when they are playing. Even among the starters, there are often one or two players that are identified as stars. These stars have the big contracts. Some live up to expectations, others do not.
In baseball, as in all sports, fatigue and injuries are inevitable. The bench players gave all that they had to make the starting lineup, but for whatever reason another player was identified as “better”. How will the bench player react? Will they sulk and badmouth the starter, secretly (or maybe even not secretly) hoping for their failure? Or will the bench player continue working hard, improving individually, and remaining ready to give 100% when their opportunity comes? Will they support the players on the field and do what they can in practice to set the team up for success?
With the coaches and players in place, the best owners and general managers then stay out of the way and let the experts they hired perform.
As you read about building a successful baseball team, the similarities to a successful business become clear. Teams and individuals will have struggles and triumphs. If the team was built well, both struggles and triumphs can result in growth and progress. Likewise, if the team is comprised of selfish individuals – no matter how talented – who put themselves before the team then the team can suffer and decline in both circumstances.
A successful team is made up of diverse individuals with shared values pursuing a common vision.
How is your team doing?
—Matt Kulp, St. Onge Company
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