Thoughts on Leadership: What Leaders Can Learn from the San Francisco Giants

It's been an amazing week here in the Bay Area as we watched our San Francisco Giants win the 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers, in just five games. We can take a lot of inspiration from this winning team – their teamwork, strong will, motivation, strength and perseverance can teach us many successful leadership lessons.  At the beginning of this baseball season, no one would've predicted the Giants would come out on top. Many said this win couldn't be done. But the team ignored the commentary, focused and they did it. Perhaps the greatest takeaway from this unexpected victory is the power of teamwork. The Giants are not a team carried by one or two stars. They are a team that works together 100 percent of the time.

Teamwork is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as "a joint action by a group of people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group."

This does not mean that the individual is no longer important; however, it does mean that effective and efficient teamwork goes beyond individual accomplishments. The most effective teamwork is produced when all the individuals involved compliment their contributions and work towards a common goal.

In 1999, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Steve Sax, a former second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I was quick to bring up the 1988 World Series where the LA Dodgers beat the highly favorite Oakland A's, who clearly had the best players such as Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Dennis Eckersley, to name a few. I recall mentioning to Steve, “The best team didn’t win the World Series.” To this day I can still remember Steve’s reaction as he took a great deal of offense to my comment. His response back to me was distinct, “Maybe the A’s had the better players, but we definitely had the best team.”

To succeed at any task, everyone who is involved needs to combine efforts. If everyone does their job well, then it increases what the team can accomplish. The teamwork ideal has to be recognized by everyone. Great things can happen if individuals master the fundamentals and work together as one unit. Each person has a unique role and that role must be recognized and appreciated.

Legendary baseball player Babe Ruth explains: “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.”

Teamwork is something that must be a high priority and given constant attention. Every player needs to understand how important it is for them to work smoothly together if they want to be successful. Each player must be dedicated to the whole team and be willing to act unselfishly. When challenges arise (as they always do), the team needs to have the resources, accountability and commitment to deal with them in a constructive and positive manner. A sense of teamwork and effective teams will play an integral part in this.

For a better understanding of teamwork, the following are eight characteristics of effective teams that pertain to your path to leadership:

  1. The team must have a clear goal.
  2. The team must have a results-driven structure.
  3. The team must have competent team members.
  4. The team must have unified commitment.
  5. The team must have a collaborative climate.
  6. The team must have high standards that are understood by all.
  7. The team must receive external support and encouragement.
  8. The team must have principled leadership.

In your business career, stop and take a look at how you can truly become a part of a team. On each given day each team member has got to do their job and know someone will step up and help win the game or achieve a goal.

What distinguishes Intero is our company Value #5: "Team". Collectively we can accomplish more than we can alone. Everyone is a contributor and we succeed by pulling together rather than relying on one or two stars. As San Francisco Giants player Pablo Sandoval said, "We don't have a star but we have a team." This will be the legacy of the 2010 San Francisco Giants.

What would you like your legacy to be in your business career? Just about everyone has the will to win and the desire to succeed. However, not everyone has the will to prepare to win or the will to do what it takes to succeed. If you have that, perhaps you will be the next Edgar Renteria or Brian Wilson.

Look at what working together as a team can mean for your business. If you play the game right as the San Francisco Giants did, you too can become a successful leader on your way to the top.