He was The Earl of Baltimore -the fiery, iconic manager of my beloved (and now pathetic) Orioles. Earl Weaver managed the Orioles from 1968 to 1982, and again from 1985-1986. In 1996 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of the “winingest” baseball managers of all time.
Last year, Sports Illustrated interviewed Earl in a “Where Are They Now” segment to get his perspective on the game. The reporter sat with Earl during a spring training game and Earl held court, pontificating on the game, and sharing his particular philosophy on baseball saying, “You are dealt twenty-seven outs at the beginning of the game. The outcome of the game depends on how you spend your outs.”
I have been a fan of “America’s Game” for as long as I can remember, but I had never heard that perspective until I read Earl’s comments. Earl’s philosophy is beautiful In Its simplicity, and significant because of the magnitude of its implications. That simple perspective can have dramatic affects on how the game of baseball is managed. For example, one of Earl’s principles was that he hated the sacrifice bunt, because to him it was spending an “out” that you couldn’t afford. In Earl’s world, no batter was sent to the plate with the sole purpose of sacrificing his opportunity to get on base just to advance another runner.
Earl’s story reminded me that every leader has a distinct philosophical perspective driving how they, the leader, play the “game” and how their philosophical perspective impacts the principles and policies of the leader.
Perspective = You are dealt twenty seven “outs. “
Principle = Spend your “outs” carefully.
Pro Active = No sacrifice bunts.
Not all successful leaders have the same perspective. Tony Larussa is a very successful manager who is not opposed to using the sacrifice bunt when he feels it’s necessary. Tony has a different perspective on the game than Earl, and they are both highly successful managers. Different leaders may have different philosophical perspectives on leadership, but the important thing is that the leader knows his or her perspective(s) and has thought through the implications.
Earl’s story also caused me to think about my own perspective on leadership and how that perspective has guided my principles and actions in decision-making.
My guiding perspective is that leadership is about people. In my view, products, systems and services don’t follow a leader – people do. From that perspective I have developed four principles. They are:
Principle #1: Every business is a people business.
Principle #2: People are more important than program.
Principle #3: People need process, and in leading people the process is everything.
Principle #4: The job of the leader is to make the fast horses run faster.
The most important thing for you as a leader is to know your perspective, understand your guiding principles and make congruent decisions based on those principles.
What is your perspective on leadership and what principles guide your leadership thinking? What do you believe deeply about leadership that gives you the framework for making key decisions? Is your decision making congruent with your perspective and principles?
Over the next several newsletters I’ll be writing about my four principles, but before I do, it is worth taking the time to think about your own perspective on leadership. Your perspective is guiding your philosophy and decision making. Do you know what it is?