The big buzz in baseball last week was the sudden resignation of Washington Nationals manager, Jim Riggleman. As Dave Sheinin reported in the Washington Post, the Nats had just beaten the Seattle Mariners to go over .500 in June for the first time in six years. It was then that the team’s general manager walked into the club house to tell the players that their on-field skipper had just quit.
Apparently, Riggleman had been unhappy with both the salary and short term nature of his contract with the Nationals and told his GM before the game with the Mariners that he wanted a better deal by the end of the game or he was walking. He didn’t get the deal and he walked.
Everyone who has ever dreamed of telling their employer where to put it probably admires Riggleman at some level. You have to wonder, though, if Riggleman woke up the next day thinking, “Man, what have I done?” The guy was perfectly within his rights to want a better deal. There’s nothing wrong with what he wanted. How he went about trying to get it is another story however. Is any other organization going to hire a manager who walked out on his team in the middle of the season?
Are you a leader who’s considering making a big statement like quitting your job on short notice? The case of Jim Riggleman offers at least three things to consider before you do something you might regret in the morning:
Think Long Term: It sounds like Riggleman was really focused on what was eating him in the short term. He wanted a longer term commitment from his employer. It’s easy to get so caught up on what you want in the short term that you lose sight of long term considerations like, “What will this do to my reputation, my future employment prospects and how I think of myself down the road?”
Ultimatums Rarely Work: If you’re going to deliver an ultimatum like give me a better deal or I’m out of here, you better have a lot of leverage on your side. Before you go in with guns blazing, step back and ask yourself if you’re really indispensable. Chances are that you’re not. That’s why Charles DeGaulle said, “The cemeteries are full of indispensable men.”
Why Quit a Winning Team?: Apart from the fact that he was hired to coach the Nationals through a full season, why would Riggleman or anyone else quit on a team that’s improving and winning? Even if you’re not happy with your deal, you can get stuff done, learn a lot and position yourself for better opportunities down the road by nurturing a winning team.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that Riggleman should have stuck it out through the end of the season. That was likely the best thing for his own self-interest and that of his team. As they say, time will tell.
What do you think? Did Riggleman play it right or should he have gone another way? In any case, what’s your best advice for leaders who are considering leaving their jobs or making other big decisions on short notice?