One hundred and eight years. That’s how long the Chicago Cubs’ championship drought lasted before winning the 2016 World Series title this past week. Many theories abound as to why it took so long to end the drought, from the “Curse of the Billy Goat” (1945) to the Steve Bartman incident (interfered with infamous foul ball in 2003 NLCS). Some also blame the lack of lights at Wrigley Field, something that was in effect until 1988. Many felt that playing only day games throughout the season for many years tired Cubs players due to the heat throughout the summer.
I have a different explanation for why the drought lasted so long. Until last year, the Cubs didn’t have the right team leadership in place. Now – with President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and Manager Joe Maddon – the Cubs gained their championship and are built for more.
Epstein’s decision-making style can best be described as both Bold and Tactical. He looks at the organization he is working for and the tools that are in place before making any business decisions. His focus is clearly on the Task at hand, and combines a Big Picture focus with his knowledge of what produces Concrete results.
Theo Epstein first showed his leadership prowess by tackling the “curse” that existed in Boston, winning two championships in 2004 and 2007 after being hired in 2002 at age 28 to be its General Manager. Epstein rebuilt the team’s foundation, adding the right players and hiring the right manager – Terry Francona – to guide the team. Together, they ended the Red Sox’s 86-year championship drought.
In 2011, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, recognizing that Epstein was something special, seized his opportunity and brought him in to tackle a new challenge…build a perennial winner in Chicago.
Epstein knew that — once he had the talent in place after 4 seasons as the President of Operations — his next order of business (much like in Boston) was to find the right manager to lead the Cubs to the promised land. He found that person in former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon.
Joe Maddon’s coaching style could be best described as a combination of Blazing and Energizing. Known for his flair for the dramatic, Maddon won’t stop short of anything to motivate his players to reach new heights. He shows a great ability to focus on both People and Task. In the World Series, Maddon’s decision-making illustrated his Bold approach to winning, trying anything and everything “outside the box” to get the win. Maddon’s Engaging decision-making also shows his passion for team and staff. Maddon’s 2015-16 Cubs team won a MLB best 103 regular season games. He succeeded in building a true TEAM which overcame great odds in winning the World Series, haven fallen behind 3 games to 1 to the Cleveland Indians.
The most unlikely person on Maddon’s team, Jason Heyward, who had struggled mightily during the postseason, rallied the team with his speech during the Game 7 rain delay. He was living proof that everyone on your team plays a critical role in winning, and it’s the leader’s job to elicit everyone’s support and buy-in to the ultimate goal..
What are you doing to make sure your team is on board with your vision and understands what it takes to achieve desired results? How can you collaborate with your team to keep it moving forward and reach new heights some never thought possible?