Hit it out of the ballpark as a leader by utilizing a process that you can trust. The summer is the time for our national pastime – – – baseball. Peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jack and the sound of the baseball being hit out of the park. The greatest achievement for a player is a home run and we use the term “Hit it out of the ballpark” for our daily lives too. It is a metaphor for victory or success.
Why would I bring up baseball on a blog focused on leadership? There is a systematic approach to hitting a baseball and there are systems or processes related to leadership.
My father Marv Bittinger, co-authored a book with Dusty Baker called “You Can Teach Hitting.” The book outlines a systematic approach to hitting a baseball. The process is terrific and has corresponding connections to leadership.
For fun, I will include the videos we took with Dusty Baker about 20 years ago, along with my perspective on how each step in the approach relates to leadership. The videos are extremely dated. Consider them vintage. Enjoy!
1.) Leading With Balance: Batters obtain balance at the plate by standing with their feet shoulder width apart. Leaders must have the foundation of integrity and trust to be credible. Balance can also include tending to your personal health, career and family.
Many leaders I meet are consumed with their career and regret not tending to other aspects of their lives. A batter cannot be successful at hitting a baseball without proper balance. Likewise, a leader will eventually burn out or derail if their life is out of balance.
2.) Inward Turn / Decisiveness: Once the batter has solid balance at the plate, they must always complete an ‘inward turn’ before they swing at the ball. This is the moment of decision. Here the batter has exactly .42 seconds to make a decision to swing at an 86 mph fastball.
The inward turn for the leader is about assessment. Leaders must assess the situation before they make a decision. The assessment process includes listening, reviewing data and trusting instincts. Incorporating more of these elements into your process increases the odds of success.
3.) Ike – To -Mike / Emotional Commitment: You should just watch this video to understand the concept of ‘Ike To Mike’.
‘Ike – To – Mike’ is all about follow through and commitment. In leadership, ‘Ike-To-Mike’ could be equated with conversation. We outlined in our last blog that leadership at its essence is relationship. A leaders initiative and strategy must be implemented through a conversation or Ike-To Mike.
4. Squish The Bug / Confidence: When a batter ‘squishes the bug’ or the back foot and hips are motioning through the ball they are fully committed to the pitch. They are placing all their might and energy toward hitting the ball.
Leaders need to do the same by fully committing to the cause or purpose they have set for themselves and their team. This is also about accepting yourself and bringing who you are as a leader to your work. Confidence is exemplified when one is fully committed in a direction or toward a vision.
The opposite, of Squishing The Bug, is locking your back foot and using only your arms when swinging. When a leader is only partially committed or not confident in their venture, they achieve less than ideal results.
Keep these critical systematic aspects of leadership in mind as you lead your company or team. Each of them builds on the next and it is critical to have all four to be productive.
Out of the four leadership processes listed above, which one is your natural strength and which one needs a bit more practice? The key is to leverage your strengths and minimize short-comings.