Summertime Lessons – Part 3: It’s Always an Inside Job
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
Two weeks ago, I shared a leadership lesson that I gleaned from the book The Yankee Years, which chronicles Joe Torre’s tenure with the New York Yankees. The lesson I learned was this, “If you want commitment, you need to start with trust.” Joe Torre was a fifty-five-year-old baseball manager with a losing record who was the Yankee’s fourth choice for the storied position. Coming into the job, Torre knew that trust would be the key. Trust would be needed with the players, ownership, the media, and the fans. As a gifted communicator with high emotional intelligence, Torre went to work, and before long, he had the trust of everyone involved.
Over the next seven years, Torre’s Yankees won four World Series and two American League Pennants. What is interesting is that after 2003, his seventh season, his team never made it to the World Series. What changed? Had Joe lost his magic. Did he forget how to manage? As a Yankee fan, I believe his best managing occurred in his last five years as the Skipper of the Yankees. The Yankees never missed the postseason under Torre, and those last five years, he had teams with high priced, temperamental, highly emotional, broken down players who were years past their prime. Many of whom Torre would not have signed. Tension began to arise between the Manager and ownership. Torre’s decisions were being questioned, and his access to Yankee owner George Steinbrenner was being limited by Steinbrenner’s failing health. George was listening to other voices now. Trust between the owners and Torre was quickly waning. Trust with the players was still strong, as evidenced by the fact that the Yankees made the postseason each year. At the end of the last game at Yankee Stadium in 2007, fans began to chant Joe Tor-re! Joe Tor-re! Evidence that the trust with the fans was still there. On October 18th, 2007, Joe Torre would walk out of Yankee offices in Tampa, Florida for the last time. Trust with players and the fans couldn’t save his job. Trust with management was lost, and it was an inside job.
Every great person, organization, or even country that fails, fails from the inside out. It’s always an inside job. When trust is lost, it’s always an inside job. Starting around 2003, the Yankee front office started making decisions without including their Manager. With each passing year, the tension grew greater. This decline was accelerated by the physical decline of George Steinbrenner, and Joe wasn’t able to connect on a regular basis. The result, an end of an era. A winning era. An exciting era for a Yankee fan like me.
What is happening in your organization? What is happening in our country? When trust is lost, it’s always a downhill slide. Remember, if we fail, it’s always an inside job. If you would like to learn more about this and what the signs of a loss of trust can look like in any organization, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 169 of The Next Page podcast.