5 Leadership Lessons from the Boston Red Sox
Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. – George F. Will
The Boston Red Sox are the 2013 World Series Champions. They won the series at Fenway Park in dramatic style in Game 6 of series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The championship was their third Series win since 2004 and was the first one clinched at home since 1918.
Writing in Where Have All the Tigers Gone, Lynn Hall said, “We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.” What the Red Sox experienced and what every leader learns is the discovery of one’s self. The Red Sox did it on a grand stage. While you may not, the lessons remain. Here are five take-aways from the Red Sox championship season and why they matter.
Every season is a new beginning.
Red Sox fans remember the 2012 late-season meltdown. They took a nine game lead into September and finished the month 7-20 and missed the playoffs. It was an epic collapse with too many variables to mention. But that was 2012. Every team and every leader knows that slumps happen. But great teams and great leaders find ways to overcome, make changes, and rebound. And that’s exactly what the Red Sox did in 2013. You have to be willing to make the tough decisions to right your course. Don’t dwell on the past, focus on your future.
Adversity brings out the best.
As the Red Sox looked to put the 2012 season behind them and start afresh, they were dealt another blow. On April 15, the Boston bombing occurred during the Boston Marathon. The tragedy would unite the city and “Boston Strong” would emerge as the theme of a newly invigorated city and team. In the face of such a terrible tragedy the Red Sox showed the world that no adversity was too strong to overcome. As a leader you will have tests and trails but if you adapt a “Boston Strong” attitude there is no adversity you can’t overcome.
The fundamentals matter.
With the bombing behind them and the long season before them, the Red Sox under the leadership of new manager John Farrell put the Red Sox on pace to take command of the AL East and ultimately play in the World Series. Under his direction the team embraced a new attitude and work ethic in their approach to each game. Pre-game routines were now centered squarely on the game and how each player would perform. No detail was too small and each player relished their roles. Every successful leader understands that in order to succeed and rise above the competition every detail matters. Winning the big prize happens through the mastery of the little things that put you in a position to win and it keeps you there.
In a postgame TV interview Dustin Pedroia said, “We just didn’t get nice guys that are fun to be around, the guys we got stepped up. It was unbelievable team effort by everybody.” That surmises the attitude of a winning team. A winning mentality is characterized by a total commitment by players who step up and do what needs to be done. The Red Sox did just. All good leaders do. As a leader you want total buy-in by the members on your team. Your success depends on it.
Every team needs a “Big Papi”.
“Big Papi” David Ortiz was named the World Series MVP. It was a no-brainer. Ortiz was on fire batting .688 with seven runs, eleven hits, two home runs, six RBI’s, and two walks with a .760 OBP. It goes without saying that he not just deserved with MVP award but provided several of the clutch plays when the Red Sox needed them the most. The spark Ortiz provided help to lift his team to their championship title. Ortiz’s crowning achievement will silence critics of the past who questioned his abilities and age.
The lessons we can take away from the Red Sox World Series Championship are many. And the parallels to leadership are plenty. But remember this: no adversity can overtake you if your resolve to succeed is strong enough. Champions find a way to win like all good leaders do. Never doubt yourself or your abilities and never allow past failures to define your future. Be “Boston Strong” and you will go far.
© 2013 Doug Dickerson
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