Those who have been reading our blog for a while know I like to draw analogies between business situations and baseball. The comparisons are intended to offer different perspectives, even if it seems like they come out of left field.
This week, I want to focus on a presentation made by Derek Jeter, retired shortstop of the New York Yankees and current part-owner of the Florida Marlins. I have great respect for Derek not just for his on-field accomplishments, but for the leadership he displayed both on and off the field. He is also one of the classiest athletes I have ever met. He continues to show his commitment to others through the work of his nonprofit charity, the Turn2Foundation, which helps kids in three different cities stay drug- and alcohol-free.
In his presentation, Jeter mentioned, “A pet peeve of mine are athletes who talk about their injuries before a game to give themselves an excuse.”
We often see this when working with labor-management groups, where members have already decided a cooperative process will fail. Instead of physical injuries, they cite reasons ranging from past issues between labor and management to doubts about the willingness of parties to work cooperatively.
As Jeter mentioned, these are excuses to rationalize the potential failure of a process. It is an attempt to absolve themselves from a negative outcome. It may be because they lack the willingness to put the time and energy into the process or feel the problem is beyond their abilities.
This attitude can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If someone believes a process will fail they may not provide the initiative necessary for it to succeed. Team members need to believe that while the process in front of them may be difficult, they can trust their abilities to succeed. Making excuses before the process stars offers no help.
Jeter went on to state, “You can’t succeed without experiencing failure.” There is no shame in failure, problems arise when we do not learn from it and use that knowledge to improve our work in the future.
Jeter also said, “Leadership means different things to different people,” but “transparent communications equals trust.” This is a trait we encourage all leaders, labor and management, to practice. It will help the labor-management team build the trust needed to solve difficult problems.
Jeter’s thoughts are relevant to labor-management relationships and all types of leadership. It is essential the leaders in any process demonstrate these characteristics and are committed to helping the group achieve success.