Players Report: Building (Baseball) Teams
In the world of baseball, spring training marks the exciting and energetic beginning of a new season. Teams from all over the country travel to Arizona and Florida for pre-season camp. Fans follow them in droves, hoping to escape the winter chill and have the chance to see some of their favorite players in action. Diamondbacks catcher Stephen Vogt described this experience, saying “There is a buzz in the air. Every team feels like it has a chance to win the World Series. The fans feel that, too. You can’t replicate that.”
However, this year, spring training is going to be different. In 2020, spring training games were cancelled and opening day was pushed back several weeks in response to the pandemic. This year, sports leagues have had to make major adjustments to their seasons and baseball will have to follow suit. Sports journalist Tim Kurkijan recently wrote an article for ESPN detailing some of the most significant changes to this beloved time of year – fans will be limited, many players will not take the field, much of the media will not be there, and game schedules have been modified. For many coaches, players, and fans, these changes are disheartening, but they still have optimism and hope for the season to come. In the words of Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, “What we went through last year is going to help a lot this spring. We were close to having the game taken away from us. We learned again how much we love it, and how much we need it in our lives.”
Our organizations and groups can be inspired by these words as we approach a full year of social distancing and remote working. School and work are still different in many ways, but spring still marks the time for new beginnings in this new normal. Organizations onboard new hires, students take on new roles, and teams roll out new projects. These things kick off our own exciting seasons of productivity and transformation! And so, we can learn a few things from baseball about how to make the most of our own “spring training”.
Spring training is such a meaningful time for players because it’s when they get to meet new teammates and really get to know them. This is true for many of our groups too – as we welcome new hires or begin to train a new group of student leaders. Because many groups are still operating remotely, it might be more challenging to really get to know people, but it may be even more important to focus on these efforts. Surveys have shown that loneliness is one of the biggest struggles that workers experience when telecommuting. But teams and organizations play a meaningful role in reducing these feelings and helping groups get a fresh start. As leaders, educators, and managers we can set our groups up for success by taking the time to meaningfully build our teams. This can be accomplished by agreeing on group goals and ground rules, establishing group traditions and rituals, facilitating getting-to-know-you exercises, and providing supportive structures and processes that actively reduce isolation. Through these intentional actions we can ensure that team members are prepared to work well with each other and are motivated to take on new challenges together.
Spring training is also a time for teams to connect with fans before they play under bright stadium lights. It is during this time that fans can usually post up on picnic blankets under the sun for hours or rush the fences for an autograph from their favorite player. For organizations, our “fans” are the people that we serve – our customers, clients, peers, and communities. It is these loyal fans that have supported our organizations through a very trying year. Spring is a great time for us to reach out to them, consider ways to better include and involve them, and show them our appreciation. For example, Leadership Inspirations coaches took the time to record personalized messages to send to their students halfway through the year for motivation, support, and encouragement. It was such an easy way to show that we were thinking about them and a way to stay connected while we are operating virtually. Connecting with our “fans” in meaningful ways is energizing and inspiring because it reminds us why we do what we do.
In the spring, we are all called to report and build our teams. This year, it will feel different but we’ll leave you with a quote for inspiration from one of the most iconic baseball films of all time, Field of Dreams. “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.” This quote bears even more meaning for us now as baseball once again reminds us that all can be good again.
We can help!
Let our highly skilled facilitators get your team ready for the spring season with a virtual Executive Board Training. These programs are designed to help your team work better together as they tackle their projects and goals!
Contact us today to book a program for your group!
*Meet the Author*
The Leadership Inspirations Content Team has written over 300 leadership lessons in the past year alone! They are dedicated to continuing to deliver the most relevant leadership development content for you and your classroom or team.
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