Leadership Lessons from a Pitching Coach

Glory Borgeson
 


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In 2003, like many Chicagoans, I was nearly glued to the television in September and October watching the Cubs baseball team during the play-offs. As a die-hard Cubs fan and suburban north-sider, I would naturally cheer for my team, no matter how far they went in the series.

The team had been transformed over the previous few years due to a combination of things, great leadership being one of them.

During a game in early October, the Cub's pitching coach went out to the mound to talk with pitcher Mark Prior. One of the commentators said, “He is one of the best pitching coaches, if not the best. " Another commentator asked why he thought that. He responded, “Because he not only knows about the technical aspects of pitching. He also gets to know you as a person: what makes you tick, what makes you work well or not work well. He gets to know your family. "

This commentator acknowledged good coaching in baseball as coaching from someone who coaches a player in more than just the technical areas of pro baseball. Life affects the whole person. This great pitching coach is acknowledged as great by current and former players because he knows how to turn average pitchers into great pitchers, and he utilizes more than just technical drills. He moves and motivates players to excellence by getting into their mind, their emotions, and what is important to them, without being intrusive.

It's the same way in business. If I, as a coach, only stick to subjects with clients that involve their business, I could be missing something. Not that I delve into peoples’ non-business- private-lives. No, those of you who've known me for a while are aware that I don't tend to delve there. Understanding what makes people tick (and how they work well vs. how they don't work well), however, can lead to “people data" that affects business and work. If, like that pitching coach, I can get to know a client beyond “technical pitching", I can really help him or her achieve greater goals (like Cubs pitchers who usher their team to a greater place than I've ever seen them go in my lifetime).

If we translate the pitching coach/pitcher relationship to that of boss/employee, a lot of the same principles apply as well. Getting to know your employees: what makes them tick, what makes them work well or not work well, and, if appropriate, getting to know their family (or, know about their family) goes a long way toward motivation-to-excellence, in addition to coaching and leading in technical skills. This type of leadership can turn average workers into great workers.

© 2005 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.

Glory Borgeson is a business coach and consultant, and the president of Borgeson Consulting, Inc. She works with two groups of people: small business owners (with 500 employees or less) to help them increase their Entrepreneurial IQ, which leads to increased profit and decreased stress; and with executives in the “honeymoon phase" of a new position (typically the first two years) to coach them to success. Top athletes have a coach; why not you?

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This article was originally published in The Business Express, Borgeson's free monthly ezine. You may subscribe by clicking here: Ezine

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