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Summit Insights
Jan, 20

Baseball and Effective Communication


Most of you know that I am a huge baseball fan, and more specifically, a die-hard Reds fan. For evidence, I offer that I have been to all 18 opening days at Great American Ball Park, and I’ve visited every major league stadium. Heck, I’ve been to three stadiums in Atlanta! So, this morning, with great interest, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal titled:

“The Must-Have Qualification for Baseball’s Newest Managers: TV Experience”

The interesting part of the article is that teams are gravitating towards managers with not only the ability to analyze and use data, but also with an extreme ability to communicate. The article related managers to press secretaries, as they deal with the media before and after every game, even during long grueling road trips and losing streaks, so they have to have an innate ability to communicate with the external media and the fan base (you know, those people that stay up to watch the interviews after every game, i.e. – me).

Not only that, but they must have the ability to communicate the analytical data to their players, and explain why they pulled those players in certain situations. This is expertly depicted in the book and movie “Money Ball”, when management spends several weeks not only analyzing the data but explaining how they are using it to the players – “If they bunt, take the out, say thank you”, Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta (Peter Brand in the movie) tell their players.

Back to the article, there indeed has been a current string of former players who became broadcasters and are now managers. Aaron Boone, David Ross to name two. Now those managers had great experiences as players, and as broadcast analysts they were able to look at the game from a different perspective – studying statistics, situations, etc., so they came to the interview with a huge advantage. But they also learned how to communicate with both players (during interviews) and with fans during a broadcast.

I’ll conclude with my point – communication is critical. Being able to relate to all levels of the organization and even the entire industry is a large part of the manager’s job, and in fact all leadership positions. Over my career, I’ve found that a large part of the CFO role is communicating with internal and external investors and employees. CFOs, like managers, must be able to use the data from the company and make decisions that need communicated to management and all of the employees. There are only 30 MLB manager jobs, and unfortunately, we can’t all be a broadcast analyst. However, we can learn from them and do things to strengthen our internal ability to communicate. Study, learn, read, observe, practice. Know your behavioral style, and those of your players, i.e., customers and employees. Effective communication goes a long way towards your career success.

Mike is an Area President with FocusCFO based out of Columbus, OH.