Take Me Out To The Ballgame

My wife and I both grew up in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area. When we met as adults we shared stories of attending Cleveland Indians baseball games.  Not stories about the low attendance games at the old stadium by Lake Erie like the ones in the movie Major League; but stories about the sell-out crowds at Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) during the 1990’s.  Some thought the new stadium brought the crowds; it probably did for a while.  But what kept the crowds coming were the team and their sustained success of five straight years in the playoffs and two World Series appearances.

How did the Jacob brothers accomplish this?  They invested in building a great team with established veterans like Orel Hershiser and Dennis Martinez at the mound.  They developed exciting young hitters like Albert Belle, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramierz.  The Jacob brothers were successful because their team was successful.  Like the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it he will come,” they invested in building a great team and the fans came.

The path to becoming a successful leader is the same as the story of the 1990’s Cleveland Indians.  Long term success in whatever you do requires that you invest in building your team.  If you surround yourself with established leaders while developing the next generation of leaders, success will come.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

On a recent tour of Europe with my family we spent time in Italy. The history, food, gelato, and the architecture can only really be appreciated through a personal experience.  We traveled in a tour group of forty four made up of families with children ranging from about 10 to 18 years old.

We met our tour guide who handed out radios so we could hear her every instruction on the busy streets. She taught us Italian phrases we would need and pointed out signs all along our trip for us to remember in case anyone became lost.  One of our stops was Venice. We learned that the city is built on stilts and contains many winding, inner-connecting water ways and streets that are intentionally confusing. Venice was built this way as a defense against invading armies.

We all took an early morning walk to a shop to make Venetian Masks.  As promised, the walk was very confusing and seemed to take us through at least twenty different streets that all looked alike.  Our tour guide pointed to several signs overhead labeled “San Marco” which pointed to St. Mark’s Square and Basilica in the center of Venice.   This is where our hotel was located and where we would meet later in the evening following an afternoon on our own.  We were cautioned to pay attention to these signs to guide our walk back, as it would be very easy to get lost.  One more word of advice we received that made following the signs even more important was that the number one way to spot a pick pocket in Venice was if anyone approached you and said “Excuse me, do you speak English?”

That evening forty two of the forty four tour group members met for dinner.  We found out later that two of the older boys had become lost on their walk home because they didn’t pay attention to the instructions of our tour guide.  They didn’t look for the “San Marco” signs.

Remember this story as you lead your team.  To you, the experienced guide, the signs of success are obvious and everywhere.  But to some, you might was well be speaking a foreign language.   Like our tour group, many of your team members will understand and follow the signs.  But some may not grasp their importance and find themselves lost.

Have you had this experience as a leader?  How do you make sure everyone follows the signs?

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