GREATER FORT WAYNE BUSINESS WEEKLY
With the World Series under wraps, the undeniable story in national baseball this year is the Cubbies’ success.
It’s been 71 years since former Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis brought down what is known as the curse of the Billy Goat on the team and more than a century since the Cubs won a World Series.
Underlying the team’s accomplishments this season are some business principles that apply to just about every company on some level. Here is a wrap of some key strategies we have identified:
1) It takes transparent leadership.
The Cubs-obsessed Ricketts family purchased the team in 2009 and invested more than $18 million over five years in Theo Epstein, a former Red Sox sports executive. Epstein in turn courted and hired manager Joe Maddon, from the Tampa Bay Rays. Basically, investments in leadership were made to bring about a turnaround.
And, when the leaders stepped into place, they were honest about the sacrifices that would need to be made to rebuild the organization from the ground up. Any company that has undergone a turnaround should be able to relate to the pain and, as noted in examples from many business school management books, a quality transformation requires dedication and investment from all levels.
2) Know your team and lead by example.
Maybe it has to do with Maddon’s motto for the team this year: “Try not to suck.” The Cubbies’ success certainly has a lot to do with Maddon’s humor, realistic expectations and positive attitude.
In addition, he knows his players. He knows when to push them, when to give them a break and when a dose of crazy is needed -– recall the Instagram photos of team members in their pajama onesies on a road trip. The balance is important and the only way to get it is to truly get to know your employees and what makes them tick.
3) Engage your team and put members first.
Instead of over analyzing what his team could have done better after a loss, Maddon is known for celebrating what players did well and keeping the full business plan in perspective.
In addition, he looks to the team members to be inventive individuals. Several experts have said he values talent over expertise for this reason. It’s a strategy the Harvard Business Review recommends all managers practice.
When developing talent, focus on those who are actively engaged and, if challenged, have the ability to contribute to the future of the company. Those individuals may not necessarily be the ones with the standout performance today or years of accomplishments under their belts.