As a devoted Red Sox fan, I have a lot to celebrate today, and perhaps the nation has a lot to learn. The team’s worst to first transformation in a trying time might give us clues on how to rebuild our economy and democracy into something that again makes us stand tall and proud as one.
Here’s what I take away from this turnaround.
1. Distributed Leadership
The Red Sox owners and general manager reflected on and learned the right lesson from their failed effort to build a team around expensive stars and a flamboyant manager. Shedding and replacing them with talented players and a manager willing to and capable of building a team culture of mutual respect, shared leadership, and accountability paid off. David Ortiz said it well: “We probably don’t have the talent that we had in ’07 and ’04, but we have guys that are capable, stay focused, and do the little things. And when you win with a ball club like that, that’s special.” America’s CEOs might take note: Hire and invest in talented people who are also team players and leaders; pay them fairly and equitably. Don’t squander all your dollars on a few stars (including yourselves).
The cohesiveness that held this group together night after night, through shuffling players in and out of the starting line-up and calling on relievers off the bench on a moment’s notice is a textbook case for the power of teamwork. Across industry we are seeing a similar lesson play out as we build diverse and cohesive teams and empower them to improve health care delivery, reform education, and invent the next generation of products and services that will sustain our environment. The talent and motivation are there: Empower and trust the front line teams to do their best work.
“This is for you Boston,” said Ortiz when given the MVP trophy. And Johnny Gomes said, “We got more from Boston than we gave,” referring to how the team and city healed together since the Marathon tragedy. Red Sox Nation has shown the American nation how to pull together and gain strength from each other in and after a crisis.
So Boston and America: Savor the moment and put the lessons to work!