As an executive coach who is accustomed to working with corporate chief executives, I found this recent request to be an interesting challenge: Give some coaching advice to two coaches, Joe Torre, the former coach of the New York Yankees, now coaching the LA Dodgers, and Joe Girardi, his successor. Let’s start with Joe Torre:
1. Never say, “When I was with the Yankees we …”
One of the greatest leaders I ever met left a highly successful corporation to work in Silicon Valley. Although his new staff loved him, they absolutely hated it when he incessantly repeated stories starting with, “When I was at ….” You have a great record. Just let your players know what you think is right without referring to your past. Not only does it get old for others when we do this – it reminds them that we are old, and that’s never a good thing.
2. Give credit where it’s due
If the Dodgers succeed, you should always go out of your way to give your players all of the credit for the success. If the team’s fortunes turn around, the press will go out of its way to point out how you made all of the difference – and how stupid the Yankees were to get rid of you. Don’t buy into this – even with subtle comments or facial expressions. Always point to the players’ contribution and downplay yours. One of the greatest leaders I ever met told me, “While achievers can make it all about me, leaders make it all about them.”
I have asked many retired CEOs, “What are you most proud of?” None ever talked about how much money they made or how big their office was. They always talked about the people they helped. If you win another championship you will – and should be – very proud. If you help develop young players, as both athletes and human beings, you will – and should be – even more proud.
Do this not for their sake, but for yours. You have done a great job of taking the high road and putting up with their often harsh treatment and unrealistic expectations for years. It would be easy to carry around anger at them. Just let it go. When you carry around bad feelings, you only punish yourself.
5. Enjoy yourself.
Life is short. You have won four World Championships, been to the World Series six times, and made the playoffs 12 years in a row. You don’t have to prove anything to anybody. You are getting older. Look at this as an opportunity to have a new start – without having to deal with the Steinbrenners. Keep your enthusiasm and joy for the game, and be a happy warrior. Commit to having a great day, every day, no matter what happens on the field. Your enthusiasm will be contagious.
Next. What I told Joe Girardi.
My newest book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher’s Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.