top of page

Winning Game #5, A Leading With Courage℠ Blog: Throw Out The Rule Book

The Cubs and Indians have had decades-long championship droughts and both teams have rebuilt themselves all the way back to instill a culture of united vision and sustained victories.

In this 7-part series to match the 7 games of the World Series, Trent Clark, who worked in 3 baseball organizations – the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Detroit Tigers, including three trips to the World Series with the Indians and Angels – shares his insight on the ingredients for a winning team. Take these concepts to heart as you transform your own company culture into a winning one.

When I look at these two teams in the World Series, both the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs have had an approach in which nothing is off the table in order to win and nobody is blind to innovation. Throw out the “Rule Book” that says you always have to play or manage a certain way according to a preset formula.

That includes player positions and unique game situations. For example, the best pitcher on the Cubs, Jon Lester, happens to be an excellent bunter while we’ve seen a pitcher like Jake Arrieta swing away since he’s a very good hitting pitcher. We’ve even seen a pitcher, Travis Wood, play the outfield!

Train Your Rising Stars For Versatility

The versatility of players in the field for both teams is extraordinary. Joe Maddon seems to ask Ben Zobrist to do everything but pitch and catch. That gives a Manager a bevy of options to choose from as he or she is strategizing how to best match up against a tough opponent.

Now, imagine how arrogant a player would have to be who says, “I’m a second baseman. That’s all that I do.” He works at getting better and better at 2nd base, but refuses to play anywhere else. But you don’t need a great 2nd baseman. You need a solid 3rd baseman and someone to play left field. This happens every day in many organizations with key personnel that refuse to be ‘team’ players and leave their comfort zone.

In our Leading With Courage℠ workshops, we find that too many managers in an organization can be limited to one role and not be given any freedom to expand upon it. So they stay trapped in a title, in a department, with limited solutions.

However, by mentoring, coaching and training those who show promise, you may go a long way toward teaching those high-potential employees how to perform a variety of more roles where appropriate. One of the key leadership traits we find in the C-Suite is the “Astute Generalist.” A leader that can have some expertise, but well versed in the other specialties of their company, as well as the background of their customers, vendors and the competition too. The more we can elevate these special talents now, the more they can play in a “game time” situation or should we say, a client meeting, major proposal or internal brainstorming session. Growing your team from within challenges them and stands a very good chance of greater retention too.

It Worked Before On Another Team? Things Change.

On the Cleveland Indians side, you have Manager Terry Francona, who coming into this World Series having never lost a game on this grand stage. He could’ve easily taken the road of “Coming In With The Answer,” saying, “Look guys. I’ve already been to the World Series and won many times. We’re going to approach this Series the same way in Cleveland as I did in Boston.

The point is, a person may have accomplished greatness at other career points, but assuming that worked there will work just as well here could be a false assumption to make. Outstanding leaders assume nothing and embrace everything that’s proven to work when it comes to innovation and teamwork. There is no “because that’s the way it’s always been done” as an answer.

When you’re a Manager who is moving onto a new team, you don’t have the same players, owners, fan base, management team, stadium or weather conditions. It’s a different world when you step into another market. Failure to recognize that and treat every destination as the same could make your subsequent stops shorter and shorter (over 40% of C-Level positions are pushed out, fail or quit within 18 months – and if you are at all familiar with the amount of money spent in search, training and acquisition of a person in this role, that number is crazy). Great managers learn how to customize around the people and resources they have.

How well do you feel your team has been trained to take the next step and learn new skills outside of their respective roles? Do you have as many interchangeable roles with the talent you have? If not, what would it take to break down those walls further so people aren’t trapped too much in each department?

Did you know there are nine behaviors that can derail the career of a new or emerging leader? Displaying just one of them could be a big blow to progress. Click here to discover what those hidden dangerous behaviors are and if you’ve come close to exhibiting such behaviors.

In as little as one-half day, a Leading With Courage℠ Workshop can equip you and the rest of your team with the tools to get in total alignment. It’s also a great way to strengthen client relationships by inviting their emerging leaders to participate too. To learn more, call 312.827.2643 or email

In Winning Game #6 of our 7-part Series, we’ll examine how champion environments set goals the right way without over promising. What’s the right balance of giving your team an inspiring goal and being realistic about it at the same time so they can envision success? Watch for our next post as we head into the home stretch on how you can build a culture of winning.

Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
bottom of page