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 am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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