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A Leadership Lesson from Baseball

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

As we illustrated in Lead Me Out to the Ballgame, baseball is a great metaphor for leadership, as what we see happening on the field can be applied to business and to life in general.  One of my mantras is theory to practice, and I constantly encourage my clients and students to look for leadership in everyday life. When we can identify leadership on TV, in a movie, in a game, or in a store, that’s when we really ‘get it’, and that’s when the lessons can start to take shape and be applied in our lives.

Last night in a game between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers, Braves manager Brian Snitker pulled one of his all-star players in the 5th inning for ‘failing to run out’ a ball that he hit to the outfield. 

This one event, and the interactions after it, demonstrated significant leadership lessons.

Lesson One - When you start something, finish it!

In the fifth inning of a game between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers, Ronald Acuna Jr, an all-star player, hit a long fly ball that we can assume, he thought was a home run. Upon hitting the ball, Acuna Jr did not hustle, and when he realized his ball did not go over the fence, that’s when he started to run.  When we start something, a project, a process, whatever, we need to push as hard as we can so that we can be most successful.

Lesson Two – A mistake should be a teachable moment

When manager Brian Snitker saw that his player did not hustle after his hit he decided he needed to let him and the rest of the team know that this is not acceptable on his team (nor should it be on any team). Snitker removed Acuna Jr. from the game and replaced him with another player. Leaders need to make tough decisions and think of the big picture. The message Snitker sent to his star player as well as the entire team should help them all become stronger individuals and team players.

Lesson Three – Communication is key!

Brian Snitker didn’t just pull his player, he spoke with him. He explained to him how his behavior was not acceptable and did not demonstrate being a good team player. Leaders should never ‘punish’ without development. If you point to something that was done wrong you should explain how it could be done better.

Lesson Four - Accept your mistakes, and learn from them

Ronald Acuna Jr. did not become defensive when his manager removed him from the game, he accepted his mistake, apologized, and learned a valuable lesson.

Major League Leadership is not only about baseball, but rather about using the lessons from the game to help us all become stronger leaders in what we do each and every day.  Ronald Acuna Jr. learned a valuable lesson thanks to his manager, my guess is it is a mistake he will not make again. Leadership developed!

Keep Leading!


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