They shouldn’t have won, but they did. Player to player, they weren’t the most talented. Statistically, they weren’t the best team in baseball. Not a single national “expert” had them favored to beat the Phillies or the Rangers. None of this mattered – they were the underdog and they loved it that way. The San Francisco Giants won the 2010 World Series because they had more passion, humility, leadership, teamwork, focus and confidence than any other baseball team in 2010.
This was a storybook year for the San Francisco Giants and their fans. As I watched them play 35 games at Pac Bell and an additional 35 on television, I couldn’t help but to compare the traits displayed along their journey toward success to lessons I have learned running companies and leading teams, and watching my friends and clients run their organizations or teams. The following 9 traits enabled the Giants to win the World Series. Most or all of these can be applied to your business today.
The Giants; as a team, an organization and a group of individual players, had one goal for 2010 – to win the World Series. This may seem obvious but it isn’t. Unlike most other teams they didn’t care about individual achievements – they cared about winning as a team. During the 100 or so interviews I watched, they always spoke about winning or losing as a team, not about their individual performances. They were just happy to make a contribution. In fact, when they broke personal records, they deflected the interviewers comments to talk about the team performance. It’s about focus and teamwork.
Bruce Botchy should win manager of the year. From one game to the next he evaluated his assets, his liabilities and his objective and fielded the best team for that particular day. He didn’t worry about the press or sunk costs (Barry Zito, for example). He simply fielded the team that he believed had the best chance of winning that day. He also made several changes throughout most games to maximize his potential. It’s easy to assume that the right person is the most experienced or highest paid but this isn’t always the case. Often times it’s the rookie that will pull through for you.
Rapid iteration and decision making
Larry Baer (President), Brian Sabean (General Manager) and Bruce Bochy (Manager) had to work through injuries, slumps and off-field legal issues. They didn’t dwell on the problems; rather, they focused on the solution and rapidly made decisions and stuck by those decisions. Examples of this include replacing Zito, their highest paid player by a wide margin, with the rookie Madison Bumgarner to field the first rookie battery (pitcher and catcher combination), along with Buster Posey, to start in a World Series since 1947, when Yankees pitcher Spec Shea threw to catcher Yogi Berra. Seriously – 1947 – that takes guts and confidence.
This team all started with recruiting. If you read this weeks Sports Illustrated article, you will learn about the emphasis that this team has had on pitching, since 2002. Through scouting, farm teams and throughout the year, this team of misfits has been created through crafty recruiting with a focus on the notion that great pitching wins championships. When you recruit, are you looking out for both the short term and long term as the Giants did? Perhaps you can build a program with top colleges to attract rockstars to your company.
Confidence with Humility
I’ve never seen the combination of confidence and humility play so well together as witnessed with this team. Whether Posey, Huff, Lincecum, Wilson or others; this team knew that they could beat anyone but they always respected their competition and the critics. They always shared the credit with the entire organization, their team-mates and the fan base. I frequently heard players, coaches and team operations say “thank you” during interviews. They spent lots of air-time complimenting others, especially their teammates and fans, but also the competition and their management. A quiet confidence goes a long way.
Teamwork – doing whatever is required to win
Every player on this team would do what was required of them. Aubrey Huff, who was picked up by the Giants early this year, had never laid down a sacrifice bunt in more than 1,500 at bats. In September of this year, Bochy pulled Huff aside to tell him that he may need him to bunt in a critical October game. Well, November came around and Aubrey laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the runners during a critical inning of game 5. Aubrey had practiced for that very moment. Aubrey doesn’t bunt, but he did what he needed to do to win.
Hard work, preparation and determination
Brian Wilson epitomizes hard work. His preparation and workout schedules are well documented. He trained before and after workouts. His off-season workouts with his friend Barry Zito are also well documented. He simply worked as hard as he could to be prepared as possible. Drive and determination are so important to the Bearded one that his motto, and that of his clothing line One More Round is `No matter how deep I am in this fight, no matter how badly burned I am, I’ve got one more round in me.’ Sometimes you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and come up swinging.
It’s fitting that Edgar Renteria won the MVP. It wasn’t reported until the following day, but Renteria played the Series winning game 5 with a torn bicep. These guys persevered and were resilient. They played through pain, torture and torment.
I believe that the primary reason that this unlikely team won this year is simply because they wanted it more than any other team. They wanted it for Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepada and even Barry Bonds. They wanted it for the city of San Francisco, they wanted it for the fans and they wanted it for their teammates. I really believe that some of these guys wanted this World Series more for some of their teammates and former Giants players than they wanted it for themselves. To a player, they had the fire in their belly and the passion in their heart.
They became the 2010 World Series Champions by executing with the talent and resources that they had and they did it as a team. Can you do the same within your small business, company team or as the leader of your organization?
Get it done.