How To Fail As A Leader: The Bobby Valentine Story

Leadership failureLeadership is about laying out the vision and inspiring your team to get there.  When leaders go wrong, they start focusing on themselves, stop communicating with their team and stop inspiring their people.   A recent example of leadership gone wrong comes in the form of recently fired Red Sox manager, Bobby Valentine.

The Prelude:

Lesson #1- Allow your management team to pick the team that works for them.

The hiring of Bobby Valentine was doomed from the start.  The new GM of the Red Sox didn’t want to hire Bobby but the hire ups made the decision to hire him.  This move not only shows a lack of trust in their new GM hire but it also breaks a cardinal rule in management.  You don’t force personnel on your management team as they are the ones who have to work with them day- in and day- out.

The Season:

Lesson #2- Don’t throw your people under the bus.

One of the most egregious mistakes that you can make as a manager is to question the desire of your people in public. Bobby Valentine made this mistake early on in the season by questioning the desire of one of the most beloved players on the team, Kevin Youkilis.  This move clearly angered many players and you could tell in that moment that it would be difficult for Bobby to get his players behind him.  The lesson here is that you don’t throw your people under the bus.

Lesson #3- Always maintain confidence in your team.

When Bobby was asked in September where his team could use help.  He replied that this roster was the weakest the team had ever had and that it could use help everywhere.  This statement may have been true but you don’t make this statement in the manner that he did.  The team that you have still has to play for you.  It’s not surprising that the team did not finish the year strong.

Lesson #4- If you are concerned about loyalty then mean it.

In one of the most ironic twists of the season, Bobby Valentine was asked in a radio interview if his staff had been loyal to him.  He said no.  When asked if he felt undermined at times by his staff he said yes.  So let me get this straight.  Loyalty is important to you and you are going to demonstrate this by being disloyal to your people by talking about things that go on behind the scenes?  I knew as soon as I heard this set of comments that Bobby was going to be fired.

Lesson #5- Good leaders know when to keep their mouth shut.

Bobby Valentine can’t help it.  He has to talk.  He is his own worst enemy.  Good leaders know that there are certain things that you can say and certain things that you can’t say.  Bobby has no clue as to what that looks like.  His mouth began a division of the team and the end result was the worst season in almost 40 years.

The hire of and failure of Bobby Valentine as manager of the Red Sox is a great lesson to business owners on how important creating the right leadership culture is to a business. Leaders can’t succeed on their own, they need a team.  I am pretty sure Bobby Valentine forgot that part.  How are you inspiring your team for success?

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