I confess – I bleed orange and black. It’s not because I’m a competitive little bugger who loves to win bets. It’s because I’m a lifelong student of leadership and team management, and I find the human interest stories related to athletes truly compelling. I don’t think there are any more compelling and sometimes torturous stories than those of my beloved, misfit team (of winners), the San Francisco Giants.
For instance, Tim Lincecum moved from ace in 2010, to bull pen in 2012, to not being brought into a game (as of yet) in the 2014 playoffs. Yet you get the idea that he continues to be happy to contribute in whatever way he can. Every night, a different and unlikely player hits the clutch single, bunts the winning run, or plays a defensive move that would give a moose cardiac arrest! What inspires a team of professional athletes to rise above egos and strive to support each other? The answer is simple – great culture and great leadership!
There is no better example of finding the superstar in each one of your teammates than Travis Ishikawa. Travis was a journeyman, a utility player on the 2010 team. He was traded, and then bounced around many more clubs. This year he found himself back in the minor leagues questioning his ability to hit a t-ball. In July he was ready to leave the profession he loved, but at the coaxing of a friend, he stayed in for a little bit longer.
The Giants' management called him up in late August to replace an ailing Brandon Belt because, as they put it, “We saw something.” Ishikawa was moved to left field, a position he had never played before, for the playoffs. Doesn’t it make sense that he was the one to hit the walk-off homerun that won the pennant for the team?
My question and challenge to each of you is – where are your team members who are like Travis Ishikawa and Tim Lincecum? Are you able to tap into the good in each person in order to create a surprisingly great, synergistic team that accomplishes miracles? The jury is still out on what will happen in this World Series (as Dr. John Fluke’s KC Royals and the rally bunny have their own mojo going), but my team has already achieved their Annual Plan in my eyes. Will yours?
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