Tag Archives: leading

A good teammate: Leading from within

David Ross being carried on his teammates' shoulders

Cubs players carry their teammate, David Ross, off the field after the World Series (image source: MLB.com)

With the Chicago Cubs in 2016, backup catcher David Ross played in only 75 games (out of 179). Yet, when the Cubs won the World Series, the other players carried him off the field on their shoulders.

Why?

Because Ross was a good teammate. The oldest player on the team, he was known in the locker room as “Grandpa.” The younger players knew they could have fun with him, but they also knew they had an honest, dependable mentor.

The team’s manager, Joe Maddon, depended on Ross too. As a player working with fellow players, Ross could provide guidance and leadership the manager and coaches couldn’t. The kind of leadership that says, “I’m in this right along with you.”

Lots of leaders lead from up front, like a general riding into battle.

Some leaders lead from behind — providing guidance and removing obstacles, but preferring to cast the limelight on the team rather than on themselves. Leading from behind has much in common with servant leadership.

Then there are leaders, like Ross, who lead from within. Rather than a job title (VP, Director, Manager), their leadership is based on the trust and respect they’ve earned from the team.

Now retired from baseball, Ross has written a book, Teammate, in which he describes the attributes of a good teammate — in baseball, in business, or anywhere. Continue reading

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Too much managing, just enough leadership

As you might’ve heard, they played a baseball game Wednesday night. The Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-7, to win their first World Series championship in over 100 years.

The game reminded us that leading is different from managing.

Business consultant Liane Davey says that when times are good and managing is easy (like when your team is ahead 8-0), leading — imparting a shared vision and guiding the team toward it — is still vital.

Then, when times are tough, when it’s the last game of the World Series and the score is tied in the ninth inning, it’s leading, not managing, that comes to the fore.

Managing and then some

maddon

A manager (Joe Maddon)

Joe Maddon and Terry Francona, the Cubs’ and Indians’ managers, are good leaders. Their players say so. Their success — they’ve both been to the World Series more than once — says so.

Both men are also known for their unorthodox managing styles. The tactical decisions they make during games can be bewildering. Sometimes they get carried away.

During the World Series Maddon and Francona seemed to be competing to see who could be the most hands-on manager. It was especially evident in the way they handled their pitchers.

On Wednesday night, the gamesmanship caught up with them: both teams reached the ninth inning with the score tied and their best relief pitchers either unavailable (because they’d pitched earlier in the game) or ineffective (because of overwork).

It was a classic case of overmanaging. Had Maddon and Francona stuck to more traditional methods, each one would’ve had a better hand to play in the late stages of the game.

Then, nature decided to play its hand. With the score still tied and the game about to enter extra innings, a brief but intense rain shower forced an interruption in play.

Leading at just the right moment

For most of the Cubs, emotionally down after blowing a 4-run lead, the rain delay probably compounded their gloom. They didn’t know it would turn out to be the best thing that could happen to them.

heyward

A leader (Jason Heyward)

As his Cubs teammates trudged into the locker room, outfielder Jason Heyward called to them. They knew Heyward, a 7-year major-league veteran, as someone who was quiet but grounded, a steadying influence in the clubhouse.

Now Heyward called the tired, discouraged players together for an impromptu meeting. We’re the best team in baseball, he told them. Let’s relax, play hard, and win this game. Then some of the others spoke up: We’re brothers. We’ve got each other’s backs. We’re not going to give up.

A half-hour later, the game was over and the Cubs were champions. Several of Heyward’s teammates credited the ten-minute meeting with settling their nerves, turning around the game, and saving the team’s season.

It was a little bit of leadership, delivered at just the right moment by someone with no formal job title — no “coach” or “manager” next to his name. Heyward had something better than a job title: he had the respect of his co-workers, his teammates. He also had the instinct and the courage to lead when it mattered most.

It’s not my intention to disparage either of the managers in that game. Maddon, the Cubs’ manager, especially deserves credit for creating a culture where his team is united, where they’ve got each other’s backs, and where a player feels empowered to speak up.

Where, when the guy with “manager” next to his name gets carried away managing, a leader can step forward and buoy the team.

Image sources: Associated Press (Maddon), Chicago Cubs (Heyward)

A little bird told me: Leading from the heart

A little bird told me to vote for Bernie Sanders.

I won’t tell you whether I plan to take the bird’s advice, or whether you should. Today I don’t want to talk about politics. I do want you to watch the video of what happened last Friday when the bird interrupted one of Sanders’ rallies in Portland, Oregon.

First, notice the enthusiasm and the energy of Sanders’ young supporters.

Seeing those young people exulting in the moment, I feel like I’m 18 again. I feel like I can see symbolism in a little bird, and that I can have a part in changing the world.

Second, notice what Sanders does. He feeds the energy, and he feeds off of the energy. He ad libs a few lines. You can sense everyone at the rally jumping onto the Sanders bandwagon. Within a few minutes #BirdieSanders is a thing on Twitter.

After the video ends, after I return to my real age (which is considerably more than 18), here’s what I’ve learned.

Bernie Sanders, who wants to be the leader of this country, showed me that a wise leader tunes in to his followers’ emotions and channels those emotions for his, and for everyone’s, benefit. Continue reading

I’ve been leading you on

I want to clear up a misconception. The title of this blog, Leading Technical Communication, has led many of you to think that I’m interested in leadership and technical communication.

That’s only half true. I am a technical communicator. But my primary interest, in fact my life’s passion, is leading (rhymes with sledding): the vertical spacing between lines.

Keep following my blog, and together over the next few months we’ll explore topics like:

  • 3 ways to get the leading out of your cramped content
  • The 6 most common line-spacing errors in B2B marketing
  • Feathering your nest: pay attention to that bottom line
  • 27 fascinating leading facts that hardly anyone cares about
Blog logos that demonstrate leading

A few new logos that I’m considering for the blog

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not just into leading. I care about kerning too, in the same way a basketball fan watches baseball to stay amused during the offseason. I mention those two sports because the playing surface for each one features a baseline.

See how cleverly I turned the conversation back to leading?

Leading (ledding), leading (leeding). It’s a common mistake. And since people so often ask for my views about leadership, I’ll sum them up here. They’re pretty simple:

  • I base all hiring decisions on the line spacing in people’s resumes.
  • The best way to handle disputes is to interject “What about leading?” It deflects the disputants’ attention away from the subject at hand. It also deflects their anger away from each other — and usually toward me. Alas, that’s the cross I bear for being the world’s leading leading expert.

Happy April Fools Day, everyone.