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7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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14 January, 2020 Posted by Admin Posted in Uncategorized
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Sordid Affair In Houston; Epic Failure in Leadership

Posted January 14th, 2020 | Author: Admin

Read Time: About 6 minutes

Takeaways:

  • The Scheme Was Hatched Not By the Team’s Executives, But the Players Themselves
  • Manager Did Not Like the Plan But Turned a Blind Eye
  • Failure to Act Cost Top Executives Their Careers
  • Sporting News Summary, Takeayways

This is not the blog I planned for today.  Ever, for that matter. But it is such a compelling story regarding the rules of the game, and how important it is for your organization, the city you represent and for your career, to follow them. 

It is also a story about a colossal failure in leadership.

Yesterday Major League Baseball announced the completion of their investigation into the alleged cheating by the Houston Astros, the 2017 World Champions.  To my shock and enormous disappointment, — I am a native Houstonian and this is my team, one that I have followed since I saw my first game in the Astrodome in 1966 — MLB investigators concluded that Houston was stealing the signals for the type and location of the next pitch from the opposing team’s catcher illegally using a replay camera in center field and then signaling to their batters what to look for.  In short, they broke an important rule of the game.  

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – MARCH 20: Manager A. J. Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros looks out from the dugout during a light rain prior to the spring training game against the New York Yankees at The Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 20, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Yankees 2-1. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

But here is the gut-wrenching part:  That 2017 team, which is largely intact today, was generally considered to be made up of really nice guys who were extraordinarily talented and committed to supporting the community in which they played.  But it was not Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow or Manager A.J. Hinch who concocted this hot mess, it was the players with the support of now Boston Red Sox Manager Alex Corra who served as the bench coach in 2017.

Baseball teams have tried to steal signs for decades.   Runners on second would use their own signals to the batter to relay what they saw the catcher signal.  Coaches would carefully watch pitchers for “tells” – did the pitcher change his delivery for a certain type of pitch – yes, some do.  These efforts to achieve an advantage have been part of the game for all time.  

To put this in context, just because a batter knows what the pitcher is going to throw is no guarantee he will get a hit.  There is a big gap between knowing what to look for and being able to hit the ball in a game that is measured, in a way, by failure. A batter who fails to get a hit 7 times out of 10 is considered a star.   But, using a camera with a clear view of the catcher’s signals connected to a monitor in the hallway from the dugout to the clubhouse so that the Astros could then signal the batter is beyond the pale.  It is a serious breach of the rules of the game.  It is cheating.  

MLB’s penalty was epic.  The General Manager, Mr. Luhnow, the architect of Houston’s resurgence using savvy draft choices and investing heavily in analytics, and the Astros’ highly regarded Manager, Mr. Hinch, were suspended without pay for one year.  The team forfeited important draft choices and were fined $5 million. Mr. Cora, now the manager of the Boston Red Sox who won the World series in 2018, is awaiting an announcement regarding his punishment.  No players were singled out for fines or suspensions by MLB because the league reported it was not clear that it helped the players.

The Astro’s ownership, which reportedly cooperated with the MLB investigation, immediately fired Luhnow and Hinch.  Jim Crane, who bought the team in 2011, had previously instructed Luhnow and Hinch to be sure there was no inappropriate activities regarding electronic sign stealing after the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were outted for using Apple watch technology to communicate signs to their players, also in 2017.  Today Crane is described as “deeply troubled” by the action of his managers.  

Here is the stunning truth about this sordid mess:  the Astros did not need to cheat. In 2017 they were arguably the most talented team in baseball, from top to bottom. Their World Series with the LA Dodgers was close. Either team could have won.  It is doubtful the sign stealing scheme decided the outcome.  In fact, Houston clinched the series in Los Angeles where, presumably, they had no advantage in stealing signs.  All of this makes this revelation and penalty all the more demoralizing for Houston’s loyal fans. 

Here is the tragic side story to this sad affair:  Hinch, a Stanford graduate and admired throughout the game as being one of the brightest and best in the business, reportedly told investigators that he knew what the players were doing was wrong but he did not take a stand to stop it.   His failure to act, his failure to be a good leader for a team of young players, is what cost him a year’s suspension, termination by the team and quite possibly his career in baseball.  Americans love stories of redemption, but this will be a big hurdle to overcome in a game where there are only 30 Manager positions.  

Hinch did not need to steal signs to be a good manager.  He was praised by the players and observers of the game for how he handled his team of young stars through success and adversity – losing streaks, and then the devasting effects of the massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey which forced the team to play several “home” games on the road.  But when it came to the big one, the tough decision to take a stand against this scheme and risk alienating his players, Hinch dropped the ball and in doing so cast a cloud over the accomplishments of his players, the city and its millions of adoring fans. 

He was not a good leader. Neither was Mr. Cora   

Executives in the corner office who believe they are above the rules should pause and take note.  Being the best, bright and clever, is no insurance against discovery. Why take a chance you do not need to take.  Even if you did not conceive of or support an illegal act, you are just as responsible if you do not stand up and say no. 

Major League First Baseman Derides MLB’s Houston Ruling

First baseman Logan Morrison chided MLB for their crushing penalty against the Houston Astros saying New York, Boston and other teams are using questionable tactics to steal signs.

© 2020 John Gregory Self

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Transitional Jobs: Fact of Life for Many Executives

Posted January 9th, 2020 | Author: Admin

Read time: about 3:30

Takeaways:

  • A career in healthcare is characterized by shorter employment tenures, more frequent job searches
  • Changes in business model will only accelerate this trend

In the old days, the 50s, 60s and into the early 70s, employees of IBM — International Business Machines — claimed that IBM stood for I’ve been moved.  Other companies, including General Electric, employed a similar approach to groom up-and-coming executives.  

The spouses of career military officers talk about the two-year cycle — every two years their husband or wife would be reassigned to a new post which meant packing up their family and uprooting relationships. As the wife of a close friend, a retired Army officer, once said, “It is just not something you ever get used to.”  

Careers With Frequent Job Relocations

There are, of course, other industries that had a reputation for moving people around — advertising, entertainment, the ministry — but the vast number of American workers did not have to endure the trauma of ongoing relocations throughout their careers.  

Years ago, when I was making journalism and the news business my first career choice, I opted for the path of as a newspaper reporter forsaking my love of radio, specifically radio stations with a Top-40 format.  There were two reasons behind my decision:  my voice lacked a certain authoritarian tone, and I didn’t want to be a gypsy who was forced to relocate, not based on the quality of my work but the whim of audience ratings or a format change.  You could be a good reporter, someone who produced great stories, but if the ratings weren’t there, if the audience suggested that they wanted something a little different, then it would be time to call U-Haul and start looking for boxes to pack your prized possessions for the next gig across the state or across the country.  

That Could Have Been Me

Year’s later, as I was pursuing my second career as the Director of Life Flight at Houston’s (Memorial) Hermann Hospital, I dropped in to visit a friend who was a news anchor and reporter for the ABC network-owned radio station in Houston.  As I was walking down the hallway to the newsroom I passed the Program Director’s office.  He was on the telephone excitedly talking to his wife, a copy of what appeared to be the station’s latest audience ratings survey in his hand:  “Honey, great news, we’ll be in Houston for Christmas!”  I was momentarily stunned after his words sunk in.  I was now firmly “planted” in Houston but that could have been me if I had opted for my love of radio. (The Program Director survived two more “books” — ratings periods — before he, too, uprooted his family yet again.)

While some TV and radio announcers, reporters and anchors have enjoyed long careers in one or two markets, the vast majority are “journeymen,” moving from one community, one format, to another.  Ratings reports can be particularly tough on one’s ego.  Rejection in the form of audience feedback can come at any time — you are too serious, you are not serious enough, we don’t like the way you look, or you are too old … This is not a business for people with fragile egos and those that do suffer from insecurity will tell you it can be miserable. 

Economy Creating More ‘Gypsy ‘ Jobs

Flash forward to 2020.  Our new economy has produced a great deal of wealth for some, but it has also created jobs and transformed others in industries that for many years were known for their employment stability. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average American worker will change jobs about 12 times in their professional lifetime. I would argue that this number is increasing.   The healthcare sector is a case in point.   Government regulation, reductions in reimbursement and any number of other economic and market threats have propelled healthcare into a rapidly evolving business model where there is more turnover and relocation.  For example, the average tenure for a hospital CEO is now about three years.  And when a CEO leaves, the chances are great that one, two or more other members of the executive team also will depart as the new leader builds his or her team. 

This loss of what I call “community stability” in the job market is forcing executives, and those who want to move up the organizational and financial ladder, to relocate.  In healthcare, where you have seen epic consolidation that has displaced thousands of executives and managers, that instability will only accelerate as cost cutting and governmental regulations force a massive shift in the industry’s business model and, correspondingly, the number and types of leaders that will be needed.   

These changes will require executives to master some new career management skills.  For some, it is going to be a tough ride.   


Learn how to interview more effectively  

Join John G. Self and Chrishonda Smith, CCDP, SPHR, of OhioHealth in Chicago in March for the American College of Healthcare Congress.  They will be leading an in-depth session on interviewing skills for senior executives.

© 2020 John Gregory Self

8 January, 2020 Posted by Admin Posted in Career Building, Career Transition/Outplacement, Interviewing Skills, Leadership
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Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a story to tell…

Posted January 8th, 2020 | Author: Admin

By John G. Self, Career Advisor & Executive Coach

In more than 25 years as an executive recruiter, and now as a career coach, I have never met an executive job applicant that did not have an interesting story that, when well-told, made him or her a stronger applicant.

I have met dozens upon dozens, if not hundreds, of executives who mistakenly convinced themselves that they did not have any experiences from their earlier life that would make them more interesting.

What a shame.  For many, a story, well-delivered, could have made the difference between success or failure in their job interview. 

If you think you do not have an interesting story to tell.  Think again.  If you continue to hit the brick wall then hire a coach who specializes in teaching executives who how to be a good storyteller in the job interview.  I assure you that it will be a worthy investment for your future success.  

On yes, I almost forgot to share a little side benefit to becoming an adept storyteller. Some of the best leaders in business are effective storytellers. They say that talent has been integral to their success.  

Learn how to tell your story more effectively  

Join John G. Self and Chrishonda Smith, CCDP, SPHR, of OhioHealth in Chicago in March for the American College of Healthcare Congress.  They will be leading an in-depth session on interviewing skills for senior executives.

© 2020 John Gregory Self

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