Down but not out in Phoenix

Last night my wife and I watched one of the most exciting comeback games we’ve seen in a long time.  The Arizona Diamondbacks were down 6- 1 to the Milwaukee Brewers early in the game when one of “our” ace pitchers, Daniel Hudson, gave up a grand slam homerun to the Brewers – and to their pitcher no less.  That was like a double whammy.  The homerun was bad enough but to give it up to a pitcher was incredible.   I know exactly how Daniel Hudson felt at that moment and I’m sure you do too.   We have all been hit with life’s unpleasant surprises from time to time and sometimes those surprises take your breath away and seem to knock you down for the count.   And that’s what happened to Daniel last night.  He is an excellent pitcher and will be formidable his next time out but last night he got hit hard.  And the rest of the team was feeling the pain as well.

Miraculously, the D’backs came back to win the game.  The source of their resiliency, in my opinion, is the strength of the team and their never-say-die attitude.   By “strength” I mean not only the individual and collective technical skills of the team but, and perhaps more importantly, the strength of the bonds of the teammates, their unflinching belief that they can and will win together and the phenomenal leadership of their coach.  What a great story from a single baseball game that we can all learn from. 

I see that spirit in many companies I visit and I have also seen some companies that have been hit pretty hard by the recession – and it’s not over by a long shot.   But the companies and business owners that will survive and prosper are the ones with the spirit and positive attitude that I saw in the Diamondbacks last night.   Just as with a winning baseball team, it takes the right mix of technical skills on a team for sure, but more importantly it takes great leadership and a group of people who like and respect each other.  That’s the magic formula for synergy – when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  I believe the winning spirit is within all of us but that teams need to be coaxed and taught and brought together by great leaders.    So the moral of my little story here is, as Jim Colliins said in his book Good to Great, get the right people on your bus and in the right seats (and that includes your leaders) then nurture your team by giving them all the support they need to blossom.

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