Guest Column | March 14, 2014

Four Leadership Lessons I've Learned From Baseball's Joe Maddon

Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned From Baseball’s Joe Maddon

By Joe Serra, president and COO, Global Convergence Inc.

If you follow Major League Baseball, chances are you’re familiar with Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon and his unorthodox approach to managing the game … not to mention his team. Joe’s famous (or infamous, depending on where you’re standing) for mixing things up, taking players out of their standard positions and testing their skills in new ways. It’s an approach that unnerves many traditionalists, but one that’s undeniably produced results too. That’s why Maddon’s madness makes perfect sense to me.

As business leaders, we’re faced with making complex decisions within an industry that’s frequently breaking new ground, like cloud and mobile computing. By applying some of Maddon’s principles to the way we manage our own teams, we can respond more nimbly to fast-changing market dynamics and capitalize on emerging opportunities. That’s because Maddon:

Picks good team players. Competing in the American League East division against the much richer Yankees and Red Sox takes real skill. Maddon and his coaching team are exceptionally good at identifying and developing talent. While it’s important to have those all-stars on your roster, remember to recruit players with potential so that your team remains competitive well into the future.

Demands versatility and flexibility. It’s not enough to be good at what you do now. In Maddon’s book, you have to prepare for what’s ahead. By cross training your team to function in various capacities — sometimes taking them out of their comfort zone — it not only increases your organization’s overall bench strength, it benefits the individual contributors over the long-haul too.

Routinely challenges status quo. Whether it’s putting slumping batters in the leadoff spot, intentionally walking hitters with the bases loaded, or having an outfielder warm up as a pitcher to buy more time, Maddon tests the boundaries.  And what almost always initially appears to be insane frequently pans out to be baseball genius. The idea is to approach every situation with fresh eyes and open-mindedness. Ask yourself what you can do differently this time?

Trusts, supports, and defends his team. It’s a key reason why Maddon also has a reputation as a player’s manager. If you hire the right people, train and develop them, and put them in position to succeed, they don’t need you to micromanage the details. Focus on the big picture and let your team do their jobs.

Pulling together a winning team takes more than the skills of its players; it requires a fundamental shift in how they view opportunity.

As a unified specialty distribution and IT services company, the team at Global Convergence is constantly scanning the market for innovative and disruptive technologies that create new and better ways for our partners to score business. It’s a culture that’s grounded in change. And from our perspective, that’s always a hit.