We belong to one of 4 mediums: You’re either in the private sector, the public sector, sports, or entertainment. What transcends all 4 mediums is a leadership culture. It’s about empowering and lifting other people. If it isn’t, then you may not have a leadership culture. You might be part of a cult of leadership.
The difference between a culture and a cult is an environment where it’s okay when you don’t get a hit. Expecting perfection and not leaving room for mistakes is not a culture. It’s a cult of leadership that can be counterproductive, terrible for your mental health, and really isn’t based on anything sustainable.
Business is like Baseball
Baseball is the perfect example of a strong culture of leadership. No other sport celebrates failure so much. It’s the only sport where it’s okay if you didn’t get a hit.
In baseball, out of 100 at-bats, players are considered legendary if they go 30-35 hits. A 30% success rate will put you in the hall of fame! Apply that to other areas of leadership. In life, as a parent, for example, you don’t always say the best thing to your child or set the best example, but you are in the process of doing your best and learning from those mistakes. Modeling that for your kids sets them up to learn and be better. That’s what we essentially want for them.
In a business organization, leadership can be looked at the same way. We set each other up to learn and get better and hit it out of the park on the next swing. When you are looking at a mentor-mentee situation, it’s not necessarily that the mentor is better. We should look at it as the mentor has been there and taken the swings and learned a few things that they pass on. But in reality, the mentor should also be learning and getting just as much value from the relationship as the mentee. Adding value to each other and strengthening each other is part of an authentic leadership culture.
To hit that home run is a process. It takes learning, and sometimes it’s what other teammates did wrong that sets you up for success. Anytime in baseball, if a player hits the ball to the warning track, somebody strikes out, they’re sharing information about what’s going on in the game that can set the next player up for success. Watch out; the pitcher’s painting the corner pretty tight. You might want to step up on pitch two. There’s something to be learned and observed that their teammates wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
Leaders Look at More Than the Home Runs
The challenge is, the home runs are the only things that are being celebrated. Still, in a business, as in baseball, there are a number of unsuccessful attempts that lead to that homerun. In life, if you go 3.5 for 10, you have had one hell of a life! You have a story, you’ve had comebacks, you’ve had the mistakes, and the moments to rise up and triumph. You’ve lived.
Other sports don’t mimic that the same way. If you’re a quarterback, you’ve gotta go 6 or7 for ten. That’s not sustainable in life or business. That’s not humanity or a true friendship anybody has ever had. People say things they regret and make mistakes.
We have blind spots. We need to take a step back and ask, what was the intention? The intention is to hit the ball, be there for your team and empower and lift them up with information and have it reciprocal to each other.
I want to know people who contributed an idea back when it wasn’t perfect in our organization. And then somebody came in and learned from it and continued to improve. But you have to play to win and be willing to fail and learn. A lot of people don’t show up to play. Perfectionism- and that idea that we should be aiming to bat 1,000 makes us risk-averse, and that’s unfortunate. Breakthroughs happen when you’ve taken many swings at something and missed. Excellence is batting 0.350.