A common knock on America’s pastime is that the game relies too much on one player, that it isn’t a real team game the way football or hockey are (don’t get me started on basketball). But as my beloved Boston Red Sox collect their third World Series rings in ten years today, it is very clear that being a strong, united team can make all the difference.
Merely a year before, the most dysfunctional, egotistical team to don the Boston “B” in my lifetime made the game hard to watch. Star players making tens of millions of dollars went to work, took the field and cashed paychecks. There was no camaraderie, no passion and no fun. They were just going through the motions, doing the bare minimum and relying on talent. Fast forward a few months and the team dumped the superstars, brought in solid veteran players who cared about the group’s success more than their own and hired a manager who knew how to motivate and maximize the talent in his dugout. The players ran the bases hard, put in extra hours in the batting cages, accepted backup roles without complaint and always had each other’s back. The team went from worst to first, the dream season we never saw coming.
Taking these lessons into the workplace, it’s very simple to draw parallels. Granted none of us are winning a World Series any time soon, but the facts remain: fair, intelligent leadership fused with a passion to succeed as a group is a recipe for success. Employees want to work for leaders who give them credit, treat them with respect and push them to be their best. When the office is a collaborative environment where people rely on each other’s talents and enjoy working together, creativity blossoms and productivity increases. Instead of millions of screaming fans lining the streets for a championship parade (necessary brag: Boston has had 8 since 2001), we get pats on the back from clients and nods from our bosses.
While everyone naturally wants to be the superstar – to get paid the most, get the most credit, and climb the corporate ladder – it is essential that the goal of the team is not lost. The players people respect are those who play the right way and whose teams win; the ones who chase individual glory are shunned. Derek Jeter is respected even in Red Sox Nation because he works hard, treats fans and media with respect… and wins baseball games, lots of baseball games. He hasn’t shattered records, but has five rings. Barry Bonds has the home run record, but no rings. Looking at numbers alone I’d probably take Bonds.
But really, who would you want on your team?