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 an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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