Leadership 101

simple insights for those in leadership

Tuesday Thots | Leadership Lessons From Game Five of the 2011 World Series, Part 2

The World Series is over and the St. Louis Cardinals are World Champions.  And on the heels of that championship, manager, Tony LaRussa, retires.  I have to be honest, I’ve never been a huge LaRussa fan.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t dislike him but I’ve never found myself in his corner routing for him either.  But one of his leadership decision in Game 5 of this year’s World Series is a lesson that leaders should look carefully at and emulate.
In last week’s Tuesday Thots I spoke of the leadership lessons in the area of communication that we can learn from this same game.  Today I want to look at one of Tony LaRussa’s leadership decisions in that same game that, as leaders, we would do well to let sink deep into our leadership fabric.
If you remember the game, in the bottom of the eight inning when all of the communication problems occurred, the Cardinals sent pitcher Lance Lynn out in relief.  However, Lynn had just pitched the night before and LaRussa was planning to only use Lynn in case of an absolute emergency. As Lynn approached the pitcher’s mound, LaRussa looked at him and quizzically asked, “What are you doing out here?” At that moment LaRussa made a huge leadership decision and decided that he would not allow Lynn to rear back and throw hard and risk hurting himself seriously.  Instead he had him throw four soft pitches in an intentional walk.  Ultimately, that walk proved fatal and the Cardinals lost the game.

LaRussa got what some leaders never seem to get.  Leaders are called upon to protect their people.  Theirs is the job of taking the shots, of risking loss, of maybe getting hung themselves.  But they protect their people at all costs.

Many years ago I had supervisors who would agree with things behind closed doors but when we were out in a meeting and I said something, they wouldn’t back me up. Or if I made a decision based on discussions we had and later got questioned, they wouldn’t speak up.  I constantly felt like I was on my own and thrown to the front line to take any and all shots while they protected themselves.  Several years ago I got a new supervisor.  I’ll never forget one of our first conversations. It went something like this: My new supervisor – “Communication is important to me. I won’t micromanage you in way but I do expect you to communicate with me and to never be caught by surprise.  I will stand up for you and protect you in any meeting and take the shots for you. I’ll even do that if its something I don’t know about.  But, if it’s something that is catching me by surprise because you failed to communicate with me, you’d better run when that meeting is over.”  Me – “Fair enough.”
Leaders protect their people.  Like a good military leader, they lead the troop into battle and take the bullets.  Like a shepherd (and we see these illustrations all throughout the Bible), the leader lays his life down for his sheep, he sleeps in the entrance of the sheep pen to guard them from predators.
Be a leader who protects your people and not yourself.

November 1, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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