Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Four chances to be a hero


Sports analogies are few and far between on Lead on Purpose. However, with the 2008 baseball season coming to an end last night, and NBA basketball starting up, and football (at least American) in full swing, sports analogies seem fitting.

A kind older gentlemen was discussing the end of the baseball season with me last night. He told me about growing up watching the great players of the game. As a boy he loved baseball. He saw the greats like Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson play and grew to love the sport. He compared it to basketball and said, “when the (basketball) game is on the line, you know where the ball’s going; but in baseball, on any given night every player has four chances to be a hero.” In other words, in baseball, every player takes his turn at bat. Every time at the plate is a chance to make a great play and be a hero (not to mention the opportunities to make defensive plays in the field). When the game is on the line, the player who is next in order can make it or break it; either way he gets a chance.

Great leaders take the hero attitude every day and at every opportunity. They find ways to motivate their teams and lead them to success. They may not have all the gifts the “superstars” have, but on any given day they can hit a home run.

The Product Management Perspective: To the extent product managers gain the trust of the people with whom they work, they will become heroes to their organization. Trust goes both ways: product managers need to carry out their tasks in such a way that the team members can trust them. They (the PMs) also need to trust that their team members will do what they have committed to do. Every day you “get a chance to bat;” always make the most of it.

5 thoughts on “Four chances to be a hero

  1. I like the ‘every day’ angle. Both starting the day with a ‘what significant thing will I do today?” question, and ending with introspection. One of the things I liked about scrum, as a developer, was the constant reminder that you had to answer that question every day, in front of the peers you respect. Good incentive to always do something valuable.

    And that sets the stage for refusing to do things that are not as valuable.

  2. Michael,

    Good blogs. I do agree that having a winning attitude and hero’s perspective can make a difference at work. However, there is a reason why Shakespeare focused heavily on the tragedy for his colossal style of writing. If executive leadership is not selfish and wreckless, a hero can shine in an organization.

    However, much like Shakespeare writes, corporate environments are fraught with greed, envy, jealousy, and several other deadly sins. Just like Harvey Dent suggests in “The Dark Knight”, the hero may hang around long enough to see himself become the villain. I’ve had this happen to me personally…

    Now that we’re moving closer to socialistic financial systems and a socialistic President, there will be less need for heroes in the workplace. Our land of entitlement will allow the masses to benefit sans contribution.

    Much like Jack Napier, in the first Batman, playing on the greed of those in Gotham and then gasses them, we are seeing very similar trends in our own society.

    We may be at the tail end of capitalism as we know it. A system that we once all benefitted from and enjoyed, has collapsed under the greed and selfishness of the wealthy.

    Regardless, the guy under the bridge downtown could care less whether the stock market goes up or down, because he doesn’t have skin in the game. Maybe, in some cases, those people have been the brightest from day one.

    Also————-a book recommendation. Pick up a copy of Dropping Almonds by Bach Anon and you’ll walk with him through executive leadership. Kind of made me want to puke…

    Take care,

  3. Scott (Sehlhorst), I like how you relate scrum to this concept; I hadn’t thought about that. Though it can be somewhat intimidating to stand up and tell people how well you are doing your job, it gives people that “at bat” experience. Most of the PMs and developers I’ve worked with welcome such experiences. -Michael

  4. Scott (?), thank you for your comments. I agree we are seeing some ‘socialistic’ trends in the US; however, I think that gives more reason to have heroes in the workplace. And anyone who has tasted capitalism will want to continue reaping its benefits. I certainly have not lost hope. -Michael

  5. Pingback: Celebrity Leaders | Lead on Purpose

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