This past Monday, the San Francisco Giants won their first World Series since 1954. The 2010 Giants were able to accomplish something that Barry Bonds and Willy McCovey failed to do during their illustrious Hall of Fame careers; win a World Series Title. Even though their roster lacked the superstar talent displayed by playoff teams such as the Yankees and Phillies, the Giants were able to overcome their perceived lack of talent and become baseball’s metaphorical Cinderella. Not to pass judgment on the careers of several of the Giants players during their miraculous post season run, but for the most part, the roster was comprised of spare parts. In fact, manager Bruce Boochy even referred to his roster as a group of “misfits and castoffs”. This statement by Boochy became a rallying cry for the team during their postseason run. Perhaps, this illustrates Boochy’s talents as a communicator since he was able to motivate his team thru quotes such as this. We learned from Hackman and Johnson that “leadership is human communication which modifies the attitudes and behaviors of others in order to meet group goals and needs” (p. 428). Thus, Boochy can be seen as a skilled communicator and leader by establishing a rallying cry for his team and knowing what to say at the right time.
Starting center fielder Andres Torres spent the majority of his career floating around in the minor leagues. World Series MVP, Edgar Renteria, who played the entire World Series with a torn bicep tendon, and only played in one game in the last two weeks of the regular season, has bounced between five teams since 2004. Starting left fielder, Pat Burrell was added to the team in June after he was released from the Tampa Bay Rays. Aubrey Huff was a free agent addition this past winter. Infielder, Mike Fontenot was acquired from the Cubs in an August trade. Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez, who were both contributors in the Giants bullpen, were acquired at the trade deadline. Cody Ross was a waiver-wire addition in August after being placed on waivers by the Marlins. He went on to star in the post-season with several majestic home runs in their division series win over the Braves and championship series win over the Phillies. Rookie left-hander, Madison Baumgardner, who pitched eight scoreless innings in Game 4 of the World Series, only recently turned 21 years old and starting catcher Buster Posey was playing shortstop at Florida State in 2007.
Taking into consideration this hodgepodge of characters, I think it is important to exam how this group was able to overcome all obstacles and capture the World Series. What leadership lessons can be learned from the 2010 Giants? My answer is several.
First, and foremost, the team leadership structure has been in place for years. Starting with General Manager, Brian Sabean, who just finished his 14th season at the helm of the club. I feel that the stability he brings to the club is immeasurable. Everyone in the organization knows and understands the high standards in which he sets, and this allows for things to move very smoothly. Thus, I believe, that Sabean’s experience served as a calming force within the organization. Players and coaches alike respected Sabean not only for his experience, but he had proven his worth as a talent evaluator in having drafted and developed the Giants four playoff starting pitchers: Tim Linceum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Baumgardner. Hence, because of his reputation as a talent evaluator, members of the organization trusted Sabean every time he brought in a new player into the fold. Furthermore, his roster moves over the course of the season demonstrated the ability of team leadership to “respond quickly…rapidly develop new products…tapping the tacit and often highly subjective insights, intuitions, and hunches of individual employees and making those insights available for testing and use by the company as a whole” (Nonaka, 2000). Sabean and other members of the team’s leadership displayed their willingness to roll the dice and take chances on players that others didn’t want.
Time and time again, the Giants leadership acted as the princess who would kiss the frog and transform it into the prince. Simply put, no one else wanted several of these players, yet the Giants had the insight that this group could win games. Sabean’s visionary leadership shows in his idea to build a team around an offense of veteran players with playoff experience, and a group of young pitchers drafted and developed by the team. Team sources who I have spoken to in the past year, have mentioned to me that this was Sabean’s plan for returning to the Giants to the World Series that he came up with a few years ago. Thus, he exemplifies Sashkin’s visionary leadership by expressing a vision, explaining a vision, and extending a vision.
The Giants assembled a diverse group of employees that worked together in striving for a common goal. “Their personalities work well together. They respect the game, they respect each other. It’s like the United Nations in there, a clash of cultures. But they know what to do when the game starts” (Sabean, 2010). In summary, when examining the 2010 Giants, we see how the communication and visionary skills of team leadership, good chemistry and teamwork, a unified desire to reach goals, and a diverse yet talented group of employees were the winning recipe that help lead a group of misfits to the World Series.
Abraham, P. (2010). Gm Sabean Proves to be an Adroit Architect. Boston Globe, Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/articles/2010/10/24/gm_sabean_proves_to_be_an_adroit_architect/