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A lesson in training from Tony La Russa

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Back in 2003, St. Louis Cardinals baseball manager Tony La Russa experienced a leadership gaffe that gave him insomnia for weeks afterward.

The situation: Cardinals veteran Jeff Fassero on the mound, bases loaded and Red Sox slugger Nomar Garciaparra at the plate.

La Russa couldn’t call for an intentional walk. So, he told Fassero to throw “garbage”—pitches that came near the strike zone but never actually in the strike zone—to tempt Garciaparra into swinging at something bad.

The problem: Fassero had never been trained to throw garbage. He’d been trained to throw strikes, which he did, and Garciaparra laced a line drive past second base, sending the game into extra innings.

La Russa didn’t blame Fassero; he blamed himself. He’d never coached his pitchers about how to handle a “throw garbage” situation if it arose.

Have you trained your people how to handle unusual emergencies if they should arise?

Letting your key people react to emergencies is less effective than training them how to.

— Adapted from an interview with Tony La Russa on MSNBC’s Today show. Visit http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7498101/.

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