What does baseball have in common with organizational health? Well, according to Dayton Moore, General Manager of the Kansas City Royals, everything. For those of you who aren’t glued to Fox Sports every time the Royals take the field like I am, let me bring you up to speed. I remember in high school when the Royals were one of the best teams in baseball, it was the era of George Brett who led them to a World Series win in 1985. After high school I moved out of Missouri and for almost 30 years I seldom followed baseball, and with the Royals I apparently didn’t miss much. For almost 30 years the Royals were completely underwhelming.
But in 2014 I moved back to Kansas City to a baseball team surging with momentum and a city wild about their Royals! It was an amazing post-season run, with a narrow loss to the Giants in game 7 of the World Series. This turnaround in the Royals organization didn’t happen in one season. Dayton shares the journey of rebuilding the ball club in the book, “More than a Season – Building a Championship Culture”.
Creating a healthy organization takes intentionality, time and discipline, and intentionality always starts at the top. In 2005, with the fans and the media losing patience, the Royals’ owners were intentional in identifying the qualities they wanted in a general manager who could lead the turn around. Dayton Moore was a seasoned and passionate lifer in baseball, throughout his career he had surrounded himself with outstanding mentors who helped shape his philosophy and strategy for winning, his integrity and work ethic was well known, and though he served in the Atlanta Braves organization for most of his career, the Royals were his boyhood team.
Leaders often pride themselves in their ‘gut instinct’ in hiring, pulling the trigger after one interview or one dinner conversation. After all, we need a leader in place and we need to get moving… But when everything rises and falls on leadership, the most important decision owners or a Board or an organization can make is who is going to lead. The Royals’ owners took the first step toward organizational health – they defined what kind of organization they wanted and the kind of leader they would need, and then did their due diligence to ensure alignment in vision, philosophy and strategy with their new leader.
In the following series of blogs we’ll look at Dayton Moore and the KC Royals as a case study in organizational health – and yes, a healthy organization is usually a winning one!