George Steinbrenner: the King of Consequences

Posted July 14, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

Controversial New York Yankees coach, George Steinbrenner, passed away yesterday at the age of 80.  Ironically, the man quoted as saying “I don’t get heart attacks, I give them” died of a heart attack.  Steinbrenner was a larger than life leader, who’s micro managing tactics repeatedly came under fire.  In reading all the articles about him in the paper today, I wondered how such a bully of a boss could have so many nice things said about him and one thought struck me: expectations and consequences.

Whether you agree with Steinbrenner’s draconian (many would say abusive) approach, you can’t argue with the fact that they guy got results.  Two things he was incredibly consistent about were setting out clear expectations and administering consequences.

Steinbrenner was obsessed with winning. Everyone knew he was obsessed with winning.  Everyone knew that if, as a manager, you weren’t producing winning teams… you’d be gone.

Steinbrenner had a thing about hair. Everyone knew he had a thing about hair.  Everyone knew that if your hair went over your collar, you had to get a haircut or get benched and/or fined.

In my opinion, one of the reasons many managers struggle is that they don’t follow-through on consequences.  They complain that people aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do but then do nothing about it.

George Steinbrenner was willing to be publicly jeered for benching a top player over the length of his mullet.  Talk about a commitment to following through on expectations and applying consequences!

Perhaps that’s why people can talk about a man who broke basically every rule in the management playbook (screaming, micromanaging, creating ridiculous rules) with such love and respect.  They knew what was expected and knew what the consequences for not meeting those expectations would be.

Steinbrenner knew that in pursuit of his objective to make the New York Yankees the number one franchise in baseball, it’s better to be respected than to be liked.

How about you?  What’s your team goal and what are the principles to achieve it that you’re not willing to compromise?  And what consequence do you need to follow through on today?

Happy leading!


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