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If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It: Lessons from Joe Maddon


By Becca Stahl – Content Development Manager

Here’s a little secret about building confidence: your team can’t get it from reading inspirational quotes plastered over sunsets. No amount of “you’ve got this!” is gonna make them get it. It’s probably more useful to have a realistic understanding of our infinite smallness within a universe of a million stars that were here before us and will be here long after we’re gone. But this isn’t about nihilism, it’s about confidence.

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows a thing or two about leading for confidence. And if the Cubs can be confident, you sure as heck can too.

According to Joe, the key to confidence is less about memes, more about feeling hot. Let’s break it down…

1). “I’ve always rallied against the fact that [the] previous generation really frowns upon non-collared shirts, which I’ve never understood. They’ve always been in favor of the collared shirt and that being more acceptable than the non-collared shirt. I’ve never understood that logic when it comes down to dress.”

Want to lead a confident team? Lose the rules that don’t make sense, and be open to new ways of thinking. Khakis don’t define business casual, and being bossy doesn’t have to define the boss.

If someone on your team introduces a new process or way of thinking, be open to that idea, and build on it to figure out how it can work for your team. On stage we live this mantra through “Yes, And”; accepting ideas, adding to them, and landing on better outcomes than we ever could have dreamed up on our own.

Harnessing the personal power of your team basically makes you all superheroes. Trade the khakis-collared-shirt-combo for a cape.

2). “I’m here to manage the team, not make rules.”

A culture of confidence comes from seeing support in action, not receiving mandates from on high. If you consistently demonstrate a grateful attitude towards your team’s contributions, they’ll feel supported enough to find their own voice instead of trying to fit into a single mold. A confident team is prepared to make bold choices, try out new ideas, and even fail in the name of ultimate success or growth.

3). “If you think you look hot, you wear it…”

No, this isn’t a truism from Regina George. What Mr. Maddon is getting at is that you’ve got to trust your gut and make the choices that are right for you. In improv, if you think something is right, it’s right, as long as you’re all in.

If you think you’re a unicorn, all you have to do is be the sparkliest poniest flyingest unicorn you can be, and voila, you’re that unicorn. Being the best version of you is the fastest route to confidence. Your co-worker might be the life of the conference call with her perfectly timed jokes, but if that’s not your style, don’t force it. Trying to be someone else’s unicorn just doesn’t make sense.

And if, like our friend Joe, you’re leading a team, you can create an environment of support by reminding your team that you’ve got their back. Applaud (not literally) the choices they make to kick off a meeting in their own personal style, or to create a new version of a standard document that works best for them. A team made up of unique individuals is stronger than a team of apathetic clones. Unicorns > Clones.

So there you have it. Advice from a baseball coach on how to go forth, and be hot.

Build real connections with empathy,  learning and development,  talent development,  teamwork


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