This year many baseball fans were impressed by the fact that forty-five year-old Bartolo Colon was still pitching and having success. When he was a rookie he dominated batters by throwing his fastball with extraordinary speed. Now he has success despite a surprising fact. His fastball is the second slowest in the big leagues. Yet he throws the fastball 82.3% of the time, more than any other pitcher. By all normal logic, constantly throwing a slow fastball should result in disaster. He succeeds not because of speed, but because of precise command. He puts the ball exactly where he wants it, the place of greatest weakness for each individual batter.
In an interview, Pedro Martinez, a retired pitcher of great success, commented on Colon’s transformation and continued success. He said the change represents a shift away from “pride.” It is a shift from relying on “dominance” to relying on “wisdom.” Martinez indicated that such a change is difficult and many are unable to make it.
The observation translates well to leadership. Most managers try to get things done through the assumptions of authority and hierarchical leverage. The orientation assumes dominance and derives from pride. It is difficult for a manager to transform into a leader. A leader does not operate out of pride or authority. A positive leader gains the wisdom to live selflessly and influence without authority. If is a shift few can make. Yet those who do, experience outcomes that others do not.
- Who in your unit is a manager and who is a leader?
- What would happen to the organization, if all the managers became wise and turned into leaders?
- What unusual strategy could bring about this unusual transformation?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?