Terry Francona On Leadership

I’m an avid student of leadership and a huge fan of the Red Sox, so I was drawn to an interview of Terry Francona (manager of the Red Sox) in the Washington Post. In this video interview, Steve Pearlstein asks Francona a number of questions about his leadership style.

Here are some insights from the interview:

Alignment through vision: Francona says that he tries to create an atmosphere where good players want to do the right thing; they show up on time and play the game the right way. To do that, he tries to get everyone going the same direction without a ton of meetings. His view of daily meetings: players “will get deaf with you.”

  • My take: Leaders need to paint a clear vision that aligns the actions of their entire organization.  

Unofficial leaders: There are many leaders in the Red Sox clubhouse; Francona mentions Jason Varitek, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Bay. He says that they lead by example. Other players respect it when they see you grind through injuries, slumps, and successes.

  • My take: Identify and enlist the “unofficial” leaders throughout your organization.

ROI of fun: Francona thinks it’s important for the players to have a lot of fun and enjoy what they’re doing.

  • My take: People will work harder and better if they enjoy what they do. So make to invest (time and money) on making things enjoyable. Think of it this way: There’s significant ROI from enjoyability.

Power of culture: The clubhouse belongs to the players; Francona thinks they should police things on their own.

  • My take: Create a culture where people are committed to your mission and they expect the same from others.

Honesty matters: You need to be honest with players; even if it’s not what they want to hear. In the long-run, they’ll respect you for doing that.

Keep talking: Francona felt that the most critical interaction with players is after “butting heads” with them when things have gone wrong; you need to talk about how to fix things. It makes for stronger relationships.

  • My take: Always keep the lines of communications open; especially when it’s seemingly the hardest.

The bottom line: I’m rooting for a lot of success from Francona’s leadership!

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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