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29 December, 2009 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Leadership
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Baseball, Leadership and ‘A Thing Well Done’

Posted December 29th, 2009 | Author: John G. Self

I am a baseball fan. I love the game, from Little League to the World Series. I even take it upon myself to make sports bets using websites like sbo-th.bet for Online Betting Thailand and other sites for different baseball leagues.

I must also confess that I am a sports fan of limited focus. College football is nice. Professional football is OK. I probably have a little collection of afl merchandise or something from matches that I have been to. College basketball can be exciting but professional basketball seems to be rapidly becoming an expensive farce, where the referees allow marquee players to break some rules to enhance the value of the fan “entertainment experience.” In my view, what the NBA really needs to do is lengthen the court and raise the height of the rim another two feet.

Sports can provide inspiration for life and superb examples of exceptional leadership. For some people, it all starts with looking the part which is why finding custom team sports uniforms might be considered by some teams. Sport instills professional values that can be immensely beneficial to young people. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I worked as an umpire for Texas high school and community college leagues for many years before my search practice blossomed. Umpiring allows for a deep and unique appreciation of the game. It also
teaches you how to make decisions, with noisy consequences if you make a mistake. Therefore, you should not be surprised that when I use sports to illustrate a point, my example will come, more often than not, from baseball.

In the forward of Built to Win, a memoir from the exceptional General Manager of the Atlanta Braves, John Schuerholz, sports broadcaster Bob Costas quotes novelist John Updike to describe the accomplishments of baseball legend Ted Williams:

“Updike once wrote … that he was ‘the classic baseball player of the game on a hot August weekday, before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin
difference between a thing well done and a thing done ill’.”

That is virtue personified. Doing something well — even something hard — when the crowds are small and the cameras are focused on someone else. Virtue is one of the most important pillars of leadership excellence.

A baseball general manager does not win games. He – there has yet to be a woman general manager in America’s National Pastime – must be content to work behind the scenes to build the team and then allow those around him to lead, to do their job. In baseball, it is not just about the General Manager. A one-man band never wins the World Series. The organization is victorious, from the front office to the players on the team and the groundskeepers who sculpt the field.

In the world of healthcare leadership, it is not enough to master the current lexicon of business speak or only produce profits, good leaders must focus on doing what is right “out of genuine appreciation and respect for one’s craft and appreciation for excellence for its own sake,” as Costas concluded. In my book, that is virtue.

Great leaders do great things, they respond in wonderful ways – with goodness and virtue – when no one is looking.

That is one reason I have long appreciated the following definition of a great leader:

Great Leaders are a work of art. Bad leaders are a tragedy.

© 2021 John Gregory Self

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