It’s the height of baseball season so of course I’m just getting around to reading Joe Torre‘s book. Aside from the fact that it’s an amazing tale of how screwed up baseball was by steroids several years ago, there is a theme that goes through it which is one of the critical business lessons many folks have yet to learn.
There’s a quote on page 309 from Kevin Millar. I know – I’m quoting Red Sox player, but when you’re right you’re right. It’s a reflection on what the Sox were feeling as the Yankees had them down 0-3 in the playoffs:
Teams win championship. Not players. Our team was just too tight – sticking together, grinding things out. And that’s what I try to stress to this day: teams win championships. Not salaries. Not looks. Not players. Teams.
That’s how the Yankees of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s won – as a team. That’s how most championships are won in any sport, including the “individual sports” such as golf. Sure, the player hits the shot in golf. But he’s been taught by one or more teachers, he’s been talked to by a sports psychologist, he may have had a physical trainer get him in peak shape, and, most importantly, he’s got a caddie out there next to him reading the yardage, the wind, how he’s playing, and dozen other things. He’s not alone – he’s part of a team.
Take a look at your business. Are you functioning as a team or as a set of individuals who happen to share an office and an accounting department? What are you doing to build that team? Torre talks about how the Yanks fell apart because they didn’t focus on hires that fit but on hiring big names that were out for themselves. Are you doing the same?
I used to tell job candidates my role in hiring wasn’t to check their skill sets (the hiring managers did that) but to see if they would “play nice” with the other kids. I was, and still am, always concerned about the team. Are you?