There’s No Crying in Baseball | Gagen MacDonald

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There’s No Crying in Baseball

Jan 08, 2015
There’s no “I” in “team.” There’s also no crying in baseball.The latter refers to a scene from the 1992 film, “A League of Their Own,” starring Tom Hanks as a down and out former professional baseball player coaching a team of female baseball players hired to keep the sport alive while the men were off to fight World War II. Resorting to his experience coaching men – he berates his players to inspire performance and toughen them up. The player’s reaction, tears, stuns him.Both phrases are (perhaps) well-meaning efforts to motivate teams to work together and engender a winning spirit but, as Hank’s character learns, different approaches are required when there are changes in the line-up.In fact, leaders today are finding that an entirely different dynamic is needed – where the traditional leader/team model is turned inside-out. This is especially true when we consider the trend towards flat, horizontal and matrixed organizations. These are creating broader and more dispersed teams. And, while the opportunity exists to build richer work products because of the diversity of experience generated by different locations and different perspectives, it also presents a challenge for leaders in how to effectively manage these teams outside a traditional, co-located office environment.Carol Coletta talks about leadership now coming from different places. In this case, it requires leadership to come from within. Leaders essentially transfer leadership to the team members as individuals and as a collective. Control shifts from manager to members, requiring each to be even more self-directed and self-disciplined in their work. And, the leader’s role transforms to that of a facilitator; a collaborator. It becomes more about clarifying the core purpose of the team and clearly articulating roles and responsibilities – and accountabilities. Leaders need to ensure that systems are aligned to facilitate independent work – and work harder to leverage the individual contributor’s passions to full effect.Easy, right? We’ll see. A few points for leaders to remember when transferring leadership:
  • Constantly reinforce the team’s purpose and shared goals – and how individuals contribute
  • Build a sense of community within the team based on trust
  • Lead by example with an emphasis on visible, measurable results
  • When problems arise, quickly and skillfully diagnose what is happening, determine a course of action, and adjust an individual’s approach to achieve the desired results
  • Make out-of-sight/out-of-mind contributions visible
  • Confront issues within the team directly
  • Fairness is important – promote equality among team members and their contributions
  • Leverage internal social media tools and web-based technologies to bridge distances and
  • Spend more “off-line” with individual team members — schedule 1:1 meetings frequently for support
While it may be true that there is no “I” in team – there is “me.” Fostering that sense of “me” – “my role” – “my contributions” and empowering people to lead themselves will naturally build toward the desired “whole” end state. And, just like the women of “The Rockford Peaches” and the All American Girl’s Professional Baseball League grew into more confident versions of themselves, watch your employees’ commitment, engagement and self-reliance grow.
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