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Leadership lessons behind the plate

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Leaders don’t need to be flamboyant. In fact, sometimes they can seem invisible.

Take umpires. Actually, here are two takes: one from legendary baseball executive Branch Rickey and one from a big league ump with decades of experience.

First the ump Ken Kaiser in his book Planet of the Umps. For the word “umpire,” you can easily substitute the word “leader.”

“If you like having every close decision you make criticized, if you like doing your job surrounded by thousands of people ready to blame you for mistakes other people make, every one of them believing they can do your job better than you can, and if you don’t mind the only response you get for a job done absolutely perfectly being silence, then maybe you would like being an umpire.”

Same goes for Rickey, except here umps get their due as leaders with “the authority of a sea captain, the discretion of a judge, the strength of an athlete, the eye of a hunter, the courage of a soldier, the patience of a saint and the stoicism to withstand the abuse of the grandstand.”

Furthermore, Rickey says, such a leader “must be unimpeachably honest, courteous, impartial and firm, and he must compel respect from everyone.”

Lesson: If you can ump, you can lead.

— Adapted from As They See ’Em, Bruce Weber, Scribner.

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