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I Want Davey Johnson as My Leader

If you have to look up Davey Johnson, you can start with Wikipedia HERE.

I do happen to be a lunatic Washington Nationals fan but that’s not the gist of this article. For anyone wanting to better their leadership abilities within their company, team, group or department, The Washington Nats Manager, Davey Johnson, is a living breathing example of textbook-positive leadership. He behaves as every executive leader should behave.

Vision. Davey has vision and often shares his vision publicly about where he believes his team will be at the end of the season, next week or next year. He sees it “out there.” He has a vision for each one of his players. He can see their career path as if it were written on their foreheads.

Values Team Chemistry. He knows the importance of creating team chemistry that works. As with every department where I have served as an employee or consultant, the overall chemistry of the team was definable, sometimes palpable. Davey Johnson puts an emphasis on the chemical make up that he creates with his ball players. He wants a diverse mix of professionals who will get along well and know exactly what is expected of them. He states, “Chemistry is when everybody is in a role where they know their role, and they’re prepared to do their role mentally and they do their role,” Johnson said. “And if they do it well, they know that it will be expanded.” (excerpt from Washington Post article June 20, 2013 at HERE.)

Knowledge of the skills and personalities of his team. Davey knows every strength and every weakness of each player  – in detail – which is a highly valued asset in team building. He often mentions a miniscule element in a player’s performance that needs improvement. He then assigns personal attention from his staff to help the player improve. I would have valued that kind of attention and concern from a team manager.

I’ve also heard Davey talk about the mental challenges involved in achieving such a high level of physical performance. He knows the mental messages each of his players uses to block or excel in performance. Can you imagine having your boss say, “John is having a slump today but he’ll pull out of it. His self confidence took a dive yesterday but he’ll go off for awhile and will come back with solutions to what is blocking him. I’m here with is executive team to help him any way he needs.”

Buck stopper. Davey believes that if his team does not perform to their highest abilities, he has let them down. He is fully accountable and views his job as one of making sure each player is trained, supported and allowed to be the very best they can be. In an article that was published in the Washington Post in June 2013, Davey publicly takes full responsibility for his team’s performance – which was not sterling at the time.  When problems surface, he doesn’t panic or accuse.  Instead, he provides activities and incentives to make course corrections.

I’ve been following Davey for some time and have never heard him call out a player in a criticizing way. Instead, he offers a supportive report laced with admiration of their abilities and potential.

Hands On Experience. Frankly, I don’t believe every leader must have the same direct hands on experience that the team members have. However, that kind of Been-There-Done-That experience is essential and mighty valuable on most teams, especially those involving sports.

Executive loyalty. Loyalty can go two ways. Davey never ever rats out his own staff. He may have tough private conversations with them, yet in public, he stakes out a position of complete and unflinching support which sounds believable. Here’s a quote from Davey after receiving comments that question the ability of his hitting coach: “…if you want to fire the hitting coach, you might as well fire me right with him. Because he’s got the same philosophy I do, as far as hitting goes. It’s placing the blame where it doesn’t belong.”

As a woman manager in corporate America and later as a female consultant to corporate America, I have heard a lot of sports analogies. Lots. I can’t say I minded them but they never really spoke to me. So, here I am using a sports figure to serve as an outstanding example of an effective leader. Forgive me for that bit of hypocrisy yet I can’t help myself.

I want Davey Johnson as my team leader!

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