Over the last century nothing epitomizes losing more than the Chicago Cubs baseball club. Despite the fact that this franchise has had some of the best players in baseball on the team, they have managed to keep their record of futility in tact for well over 100 years.
I believe the key difference starts at the top.
Winning and losing are both contagious and the Cubs have a record of having some very talented teams fall victim to the disease provided by some pretty inept and horrendous leaders and managers.
The Dawn of a New Era
In 2015 the Cubs, in the midst of implementing a youth movement with the team, finally did something different and created a historic break from their past. Despite already having Ricky Renteria, their “manager of the future,” secured with a 3-year contract they decided to fire him and pay off his entire contract after only one season of marked improvement.
The new manager they hired to replace Renteria was Joe Maddon, who opted out of his contract after nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The change in attitude and of the performance of the 2015 version of the Cubs has been tremendous since Maddon has been on board.
This season the Cubs have won 97 games, made the playoffs and won their first “wild-card” playoff game in convincing fashion. Everybody, including the Cubs players, their front office, the fans and media have heralded Joe Maddon as a genius.
Maddon is a positive difference maker who gets results wherever he involves himself, and this season is a great example of how a manager can make a difference between a team being average or being a winner.
The Winning Difference
In the years I have spent helping small businesses, I have found the main difference between winners and mediocre performing teams start at the top just like it has in Chicago with the Cubs. You no doubt have heard the phrase, “The fish stinks from the head down”.
Companies that perform profitably are the result of courageous leaders that gracefully make tough decisions that are not always popular with the team or the fans but are the right choices.
How could you change your leadership style to mirror the success of the 2015 Chicago Cubs and at the very least move your team in a more profitable direction? The cool part of sports is that the lessons of winning and losing are on display daily. What if you could take some of those lessons of success that Joe Maddon has brought to the Cubs and implement them in your business or in your management style?
This begs the question…
“What If Joe Maddon Was Your Manager?”
No doubt we would all love to hire or become a leader that can create results immediately and move our companies towards a direction where the entire team is passionate, fearless and perform each day with excellence.
What are some of the things Joe Maddon would do if he were your manager? Relax, sit down and bask in the thoughts of confident comfort knowing that your team would be in great hands. You’d have one of the brightest and motivational minds of our time leading your team.
5 things that would happen “If Joe Maddon Was Your Manager…”
- Higher Expectations – When Maddon was first hired he did not mince words. He told the media and the fans that he was here to win a championship this year. He predicted that the team would win 90 games in 2015 and did not back off of this bold prediction despite the fact that the 2014 Cubs only won only 73 games. Most managers are careful to not set expectations at all much less high ones. Maddon is a stickler for setting performance goals for every member of the team and communicates that to them daily.
If Joe Maddon Was Your Manager: You would know the goal of the entire organization and also your personal goals that would help your team win. He would also communicate the things you’d need to do to achieve that goal. He would not tell you what you’re doing wrong, instead he’d tell you the correct things to begin doing right.
- Higher Accountability – One of the key moments of the season was when Maddon had to face facts that some of the highest paid players on the team were underperforming. When one of the highest paid veterans on the team, shortshop Starlin Castro was mired in a mid-season hitting slump, Maddon had a “heart-to-heart” with him about his performance. Castro was informed in that meeting that he would be replaced as the team’s shortstop by Addison Russell, a younger player with higher potential. Maddon said, “This change is permanent and Russell is our new shortstop until further notice. He continued, “He (Castro) was very professional about the news and we intend to help Starlin get back on his feet.” NOTE: Fast forward to the last two months of the season and Starlin Castro is now one of the most productive players on the team.
If Joe Maddon Was Your Manager: If your performance was subpar they would be benched for the good of the team and directed to activities that would help you recapture the fundamentals of your job. He would then work with you to improve so you could be a key contributor with a specific role, not dead weight.
- Hustle Is Required – Joe Maddon started the season in spring training with the slogan, “Respect 90.” He is referring to the 90 foot distance between bases. Maddon recalls one of his past opponents, future hall of famer Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees as someone who always hustled to first base on every play. Jeter was one of the most universally respected players by both his peers and the fans. He reasons that if you respect 90 that you will intern get that respect back in droves from your teammates and fans.
If Joe Maddon Was Your Manager: He would expect you to give 100% effort every day without question. Professionals in any sport show and hustle even on the days they don’t feel well. Maddon has a saying, “It takes no talent to try hard.” As your manager he would be looking for the effort you give more than the skill you possess. He’d expect you to motivate yourself to give maximum effort so others don’t have to.
- Don’t Ever Permit the Pressure to Exceed the Pleasure – Every person has an opportunity to focus on one of two things. Either you focus on the results or you focus on the process. Joe Maddon has this rule. If you’re not having fun then get out. Focusing on the end results or deadlines create unbearable pressure that ironically gets in the way of our achievements. To that end, Maddon has done everything from hiring a magician to bring in zoo animals to keep his team having fun.
If Joe Maddon Was Your Manager: You laugh a lot in the course of doing your job. He would insist that you bring joy to your work and the team everyday. You might do some silly things like “themed dress up days” to remind you that you are part of the tribe and that the team is bigger than any one person on it.
- Do Simple Better – Simplicity is one of Joe Maddon’s highest values. He has not lost sight that he is an adult playing a kid’s game for a living. From the moment he began working with the team he stressed the fundamentals; hustle, catch the ball, hit the cut off man and no mental errors.
If Joe Maddon Was Your Manager: He would break your job down to the simplest element. Instead of giving you a set of complex instructions and training, he would give you a small part of your work then ask you to master it. He would then add another level of complexity once you had mastered the fundamentals. You would know your role and all the skills to do it would be mastered. You’d be confident that if you did your job the team would win.
If Joe Maddon was your manager…
…You’d be stoked to come to work each day knowing that your manager believed in you as a person and also in your abilities.
You would work hard but see the rewards come back to you quickly. Will the Chicago Cubs finally win a championship? I really can’t tell that for sure.
But I do know that if Joe Maddon was your manager you’d sure as heck enjoy the ride there.