Game 5 of the World Series was pivotal. The Red Sox took at 3-2 lead in the series and now head home, needing only to win one game to clinch their third title in this young century.
Here are three leadership lessons from Game 5.
1. Get the right people right positions. In Game 5, Cardinals’ Manager Mike Matheny put CF Shane Robinson in the two-spot in the lineup. The rationale, as explained by a few analysts, was to get RF Carlos Beltran (the regular two-hole guy) more “RBI chances.” The only problem is that Robinson struggles to get on base. Beltran has a diminished RBI chance with fewer runners on base, obviously. Clearly, Robinson is good enough to have made it to the Major Leagues, but he likely has no business hitting second in Game 5 of the World Series. He’s out of position. Interestingly, Robinson’s spot came up in the 9th inning, when the Cardinals desperately needed a guy like Beltran at the plate.
The Lesson? In whatever you lead, put your people in the best position to succeed individually, so they can help the organization succeed as a whole. This will require some homework and courage on your part. It will require more than a hunch, more than relying on your instincts. It will require knowing your people and then trusting the process, even when times get desperate. Get the right people in the right positions and keep them there.
2. Your greatest weaknesses will be uncovered when the game is on the line. I just referred to this. John Jay pinch-hit for Shane Robinson in the 9th inning, but the Cardinals would have potentially fared much better if Carlos Beltran had come up in the two-spot, his regular lineup position. Does it really matter where guys bat in the order? Not always, but it did last night for the Cardinals. Robinson/Jay got four plate appearances. Beltran got three. Therefore, two of the Cardinals least productive players came to bat more than their most productive. This weakness was exposed with the game on the line in the 9th, setting Matheny up for lots of second-guessing. Let’s be clear, there’s no guarantee that Beltran would have reached base, but he certainly had a better chance than Robinson/Jay.
The lesson? It’s important to minimize the impact of your weaknesses. I didn’t say overlook or ignore them. You need to deal with them, but you also need to minimize their potential impact. In the Cardinals’ case, that means moving Robinson/Jay down in the lineup. In your case, it may mean admitting you have a weakness and asking for help to address it. It might mean getting someone to fill the gap where you are deficient. Know this, your weaknesses, if not addressed, will come back to haunt you at the most inopportune time.
3. Never trust a person’s one moment of greatness…look at their body of work. I love Jonny Gomes. I really do. He is a fun player who always plays hard and seems to appreciate the gift of being a Big League player. That said, he’s just not a really good player anymore. Wait, you say, didn’t he hit a huge home run in Game 4? He did, and that’s the only hit he has in the World Series. Is he a valuable member of the Red Sox? Certainly, but not valuable enough to warrant unlimited playing time and a spot at cleanup in the lineup. Red Sox manager John Farrell feeds off the narrative that Gomes “brings something special” to the lineup. Perhaps he does, but he has only one hit in five games. His one moment of greatness overshadows his real lack of production.
The lesson? A person is who they usually are. One moment of greatness, no matter how great, does not truly define who a person is. So, whether you are considering hiring, promoting, friending, dating, or whatever with someone, look past a singular moment of greatness. Look for who they really are. You’ll see it in what they do every day. Jonny Gomes hit a big home run, but he’s not a good hitter anymore. Don’t let the narrative about a person blind you to who they really are. Look deeper.