Trusting Your Team to Do Their Jobs

Catcher's maskI played organized baseball from the time I was five years old until I graduated from college at age 22, and spent the majority of those seasons squatting behind home plate wearing the “tools of ignorance.” The phrase is attributed to Bill Dickey and/or Muddy Ruel back in the 1930s as a self-deprecating description of a person who would choose to put himself in harm’s way in what is otherwise a “safe sport” (at least from a fielding perspective). The irony is that of all the players on the field, the catcher has the most responsibility and more often than not acts as a manager on the field. The catcher participates in nearly every defensive play of the game, has the best vantage point on the field, and can control the pace of the game at his whim. He is the heartbeat of the team, which is why it bothers me to see pitches being called  from the dugout instead of behind the plate, as if the coaches are playing a video game instead of managing a team.

A coach’s job is to prepare his players for the game. He can’t play the game for them, and if he does a good job of preparing his team, he doesn’t have to. Certainly there are times in the course of a game in which the coach’s input is necessary; but not on every pitch.  How would you feel if your boss managed you that way? How much responsibility would you take for your work? How motivated would you be to think outside the box?

The best bosses that I have had in my career are the ones who provided me with the training and information I needed to do my job and then let me do it – mistakes and all. If you don’t trust someone to get the job done, then either you have the wrong person in the position, or you haven’t adequately trained them. I guess there could be another alternative – that you really would prefer to do their job instead of your own (which perhaps is the motivation of all of those coaches).

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