Former Major League Baseball slugger and current CEO of A-Rod Corp, Alex Rodriguez, was drafted at the age of 17 and began his career at 18. Much like the common challenge that a brand’s leadership team faces in connecting the culture of its business to the next generation of superstar employees (teammates, as we prefer to call them), baseball managers had to figure out a way to get the best out of the young phenom.
Pure talent mixed with an incredible hunger for winning soon set the foundation for Rodriguez’s success, but the managers who found a connection with him ultimately helped mold him. When all was said and done, Rodriguez collected 696 home runs, 3,115 hits, 2,086 RBI, 14 all-star appearances, three MVPs and a World Series ring.
In an interview with 1851 Franchise Magazine, Rodriguez provided these five insights from professional sports leaders that you should apply to your own business in order to win your own version of a World Series:
1. Crystal Clear Communication
The responsibility of a manager is much like that of a CEO because ultimately, managers are overseeing a group of people, players and coaches who are reporting to their team’s general manager and ownership, much like CEOs report to their boards and stockholders. In handling that responsibility, one of the most important things that a leader can do is to become a crystal-clear communicator. In [baseball], metrics have taken over the game. Thus, communication is key when explaining what data means to running the team and your business.
2. Overvalue the Fundamentals
The greatest coach I’ve ever had, who was really my teacher, was my high school teacher Rick Hoffman. He was a great teacher of the game and of the fundamentals. That really helped me. From the age of 15 to 25, I only had two coaches—Hoffman and Lou Piniella. The fundamentals are what they taught. Without them, you can’t execute big things. By doing the little things, the big things take care of themselves. Both [Hoffman and Piniella] are great communicators and motivators.
3. Tough Love with Blended Praise is Valuable
With Hoffman and Piniella, you always knew where you stood. You knew you had to be accountable. They led with honesty, with truth and with toughness. Tough love.
4. Overcommit to Ensuring Great Leadership
I was a beneficiary of great coaching. I believe leadership makes an enormous difference in accomplishments. It really is hard to evaluate talent when you don’t have the right leadership.
5. Know that Even When You Are the CEO, You Can Still Learn from Others
I have the utmost respect for a legend like Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski, who Rodriguez interviewed in January 2018 for Fox Sports) and what he’s built over the past decade. I just feel fortunate to be able to sit across from him. We were supposed to meet for 10 minutes, and he ended up giving us 45 minutes. For a second, I forgot we were on television. By nature, I’m a student at heart, and I love to investigate. It’s good to be willing to learn from those who have figured it out.