What Baseball Can Teach Us About Leadership

What Baseball Can Teach Us About Leadership

Opening Day is right around the corner. As you settle in to watch your home team with your hot dog and beer, think about what you can take away to improve your leadership skills.


Each baseball team has its All Stars, like the dominant pitcher or the homerun hitter. These are critical talents for a winning team. But they alone can’t carry the team to the World Series. Strong leaders realize that it takes the whole team working together to be successful, not just strong talent.


Baseball is played on a grass and dirt field. In my opinion, if a player doesn’t get dirty, they are not trying hard enough. It’s the same with a strong leader. Sometimes they have to get dirty by having difficult conversations or making tough decisions. Also, when a leader gets a little dirt on their uniform, it can inspire team members to power through the challenges they face.


Great leaders use all of the data and analysis they can get their hands on to make smart, informed decisions. This includes the strength of their team members. If a batter is in a slump, he may be taken out of the game. You have to regularly evaluate and adjust your game plan based on data and observations.


You won’t make it in the big leagues if you can’t hit a curve ball. Successful leaders know that there are change-ups, sliders, and curve balls that come up unexpectedly. Being responsive and flexible can help you respond to those unanticipated events.


Major league players learned this lesson very early. To hit a pitch going 95 miles per hour, you have to be laser focused. Leaders must also be continuously focused on the vision and priorities for the community’s success.


There’s a great quote by Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” How much time do you spend worrying about whether something will work or how you will look if you don’t succeed? Everyone makes mistakes. No one is right 100% of the time. Even Babe Ruth only had.314 lifetime ERA. Wait for your pitch. Then, swing away.


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How to Get Your Team Rowing in the Same Direction

Get Your Senior Living Sales and Marketing Team Rowing in the Same Direction

When it comes to improving senior living sales and marketing, I like to use analogies. In college, I was a coxswain on our crew team for the eight-man barge. As a coxswain, I was responsible for steering the boat and coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers. It was mostly about rhythm—making sure that all the crew was rowing together. (Think of the VP of senior living marketing and/or VP of senior living sales as the coxswain.)

When the crew wasn’t in synch, there was a risk of “catching a crab.” This means to put one’s oar in the water at the wrong time, which results in the oar flipping parallel to the boat. When this happens, the oar handle forcibly flies backwards, going over the rower’s head or striking the rower’s chest. In extreme cases, the rower may be thrown overboard. This is bad—especially during a race.

Our first trips on the river were fraught with “crabs” as we figured out everyone’s best position on the boat. But eventually, we went from eight single rowers to one coordinated team gliding on the river.

So how can you get your senior living sales and marketing teams rowing in the same direction – without catching a crab?

1. Know Where You Are Going

As the leader, you are responsible for steering the boat. If you don’t know what direction you are going in, you won’t get very far.

2. Share Your Direction – A Lot

Once you know where you’re headed, you want to get everyone on board. Share your vision with your senior living marketing and sales team. Let them know your goals and what you want to accomplish. Sharing your vision is not a “one and done” event, meaning you shared your vision, your team is excited, but then they just move on to their next activity (and before you know it, they’re headed in the wrong direction). You need to reinforce your vision constantly.

3. Keep Everyone Focused on the Goal Line

Come up with a short list of metrics that you want to measure your progress towards the goal. Keep the list to no more than five metrics and don’t forget to review with your team regularly.

4. Hold People Accountable to be in Alignment

Getting your team into the boat and showing them where they are going is only half the battle. You have to get them to row together at the same speed and direction. If you let one person do his or her own thing, you’ll go nowhere.

The coxswain is the leader of the boat in rowing. They set the tempo, and they keep the boat going in the right direction. They encourage the team, telling them how far they have to go until they reach the goal line, and they correct any rowers who are going too fast or too slow.

In your senior living community, picture yourself as the coxswain: set the pace, encourage senior living sales and marketing staff, communicate constantly, and course correct as needed.

Need help steering your senior living sales and marketing teams? Let us help!

We’re the only agency with real industry experience. Let’s talk about senior living and your community’s specific needs!

Interested in further insights?

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8 Questions that Determine a Great Leader

8 Questions that Determine a Great Leader

Are you a good leader? How do you know? Review this quick leadership checklist to see how you measure up against characteristics of great leaders.

8 Questions for a Great Leader

  1. Is your door open more than it is closed? Does your team feel comfortable coming to you with questions, ideas and concerns?
  2. Do you have favorites or are you fair with all your staff? This can be tough – it’s part of human nature to develop close bonds.
  3. Do you have a culture of safety? People make mistakes. Do you punish or provide an environment that creates learning opportunities?
  4. How are you in managing your team’s work/life balance issues? It never fails – on the day of your yearly strategic planning meeting your key team member is out with a sick child. Are you empathetic or frustrated?
  5. Are you even- tempered and consistent with your emotions? Are you predictable in your reactions in times of change and crisis? Keep calm and carry on!
  6. Have you set expectations with your team? Does your staff know clearly what is expected of them and are they given the support to reach their goals?
  7. Do you micromanage your staff? Or do you empower them to make changes and decisions with the end goal in mind?
  8. Are you having fun? Are you creating an environment where people enjoy coming to work regardless of the external stressors?

The best way to assess your leadership skills is to look at your team:

Are they having fun?

Are they feeling successful?

Is the team reaching goals?

What other questions could you ask someone to determine if their characteristics are ones of great leaders?