Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The passing of George Steinbrenner has provoked glowing tributes for a man who dedicated himself to winning at all costs. There is no question that George Steinbrenner was one of the most influential owners in professional sports history. Mr. Stenbrenner revolutionized sports marketing and talent acquisition. The New York Yankees are now worth 100 times what he bought the franchise for and they won 7 World Championships under George Steinbrenner's leadership. The stats don't lie, this is one of the most successful professionals in sports history. My question with Mr. Steinbrenner's legacy is not in the stats but the process by which to get there and if such a professional approach will ever exist again.
I am equal parts competitor and collaborator. My greatest achievements have come from competing with unparallelled effort and winning as a result. Some of the most influential people in my life pushed me hard, seldom applauded my effort but showed me how to achieve without asking for anything in return. There are others who have influenced me by helping me believe in myself through positive reinforcement.
So I ask my readers to ponder the following point:
Is it better to succeed by fulfilling your competitive drive or to find your path, follow it and be confident in the results by your own accord.
I have won Baseball Championships, Wrestling Tournaments, Skateboarding Competitions, Elections, Popularity Contests, Sales Awards, Committee Nominations, etc. My Resume is full.....do you care? I have competed and won at the highest level. I revel in competition and when the whistle blows I thrive on digging in, trying hard and getting to the finish line first....do you?
A while back I introduced the metaphor of excelling to the finish line and breaking the tape alone....while everyone else walked together and enjoyed each other's company...In winning some times we beat our chest alone while others look on in confusion.
My competitive life in sports spilled over into my professional life. However, there are many games within the game of professional development. With a team of various talents and diverse responsibilities; is competition always the way to results? Some times we have to bear in mind that not everyone has a ladder to achievement that promotes stepping on another's hands to get to the top. Some times results are better shared than celebrating on our own.
The worst bosses I have had yelled at me and expected me to respond to their inelegant personal attacks. To overcome their crass personal disinterest by producing results in spite of them.
The best bosses I have had helped me get out of my own way. To focus less on running people over and more on lifting them up.
There is so much said about today's workforce and our need for continual encouragement at every turn. Our need to be recognized and our unwillingness to be 'instructed'. From the aforementioned points it might be concluded that people like working with people who they like....
I would not have enjoyed working for George Steinbrenner! That does not mean I would not have accepted his challenges and grown from them. We walk such a fine line in the organizational culture we create (or destroy).
My final observation: If you have options you are less willing to put up with a bully as a boss. If you have confidence you are less willing to respond to insults with results. Knowing this, we might formulate our leadership approach based not on the results we wish to create but the people we want to inspire.
Rest in Peace Georage Steinbrenner (1930 - 2010)
Don't Forget to Remember!