5 Things I Learned from the 2016 Chicago Cubs
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I’ve had the wonderful fortune and blessing to be able to lead a successful company for almost 20 years. We’ve grown from 40 people to 450 over that time period. To better myself as a leader along the way, I’ve read many books, attended seminars and become a devoted follower of Warren Buffet. Even with all of this, the 2016 Chicago Cubs demonstrated some of the simplest but most profound leadership concepts I’ve ever seen. Here are the things I think the Cubs can teach all business leaders:
- Find your vision. When the Ricketts family bought the Cubs, they had a simple vision: to be world champions. This was what they preached to their team, their company and anyone who would listen. With this always in mind, they made strategic and tactical decisions that supported the vision. As a business leader, can you clearly and concisely articulate the vision of your company? Are all your decisions aligned to this vision?
- Invest in leadership. To be world champions, the Cubs knew they had to invest heavily in leadership and these leaders needed to have the same vision as them. The Cubs spent the money needed to bring in Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Madden. They went even further to break the company up into two sections, baseball operations led by Epstein and business operations led by Crane Kenny. They didn’t go light on leadership and knew they needed to align leaders to their skill sets and not run them too thinly. As a business leader, do you have a team of leaders who follow your vision? Do you have enough leaders so the job can be done successfully?
- Develop and retain young talent. A baseball team needs a balance of players on the field, but to be world champs, there needs to be a group of young, talented people always in your pipeline to make sure you can win over the long haul. To become champions, the Cubs knew they needed to create an attitude of winning and consistently get into the playoffs. To do this, they needed young, home grown talent. As a business leader, do you have a process to train and develop young, talented people consistently and over the course of their career?
- Choose data over gut decision making. If you’ve ever heard any of the Cubs leaders give a presentation, you’ll know from the outset that they value data as a basis for decision making. They use player data to the finest detail to assure they’re fielding the best team at all times. They make their investment decisions based on the best possible return on value, based on what the data tells them. As a business leader, do you have a process to review your own business and industry data to aid in your decision making?
- Look the part. The Cubs implicitly knew they would need to upgrade everything around them if they were going to attract the most talented players, leaders, great sponsors (we were one of them) and business partners. The Cubs made investments in Wrigley Field, their clubhouse, amenities and training facilities in Arizona and the Dominican Republic. I don’t mean to say you need to look extravagant to be successful, but you need to have a look of professionalism and seriousness. As a business leader, does your business look and feel like a business that is and wants to remain highly successful?
I loved the 2016 Cubs season. They’re a great organization and one I deeply admire. I plan to run my company with many of their business ideologies in mind.
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