Heard this one the other day…I thought it showed great poise.

Terry Francona…Manager of the Boston Red Sox was being questioned by the media about the batting slump that David Ortiz was experiencing for the first few weeks of the season.  Is he over the hill?  Has he lost it?  Should he be replaced?  How long will you wait before changing him out for someone else?  How do you plan to react?

He replied, “You can’t react to everything”.  The implication was right on.  As  a leader, you can’t react to everything.  Sometimes you have to let things play themselves out a bit before jumping in and taking action.  Immediately acting on everything raises the level of pressure on the situation, and creates an atmosphere in which everything becomes a crisis.  It creates a level of stress which inhibits everyones ability to perform effectively.

By letting things play out a bit you show poise and calm, which is so needed by your constituents…in this case the other team members, the fans, and the owners.  You demonstrate that the situation may not require intervention at this moment.  You diffuse the pressure.  You make it clear that you are aware of the situation, the implications, and that you have it under control.  It is critical to your constituents that they know you are in control of the situation.

In this situation Terry Francona was absolutely right.  David Ortiz is a pro.  He, like any other professional athlete, will have slumps and hot streaks.  If he were to have gotten all excited about this situation it would have made the situation worse.  It would have put extra pressure on Ortiz to resolve his problems, and it would have demonstrated to the team that they had better not go into a slump, or they would come under the same kind of scrutiny.  That would negatively affect the performance of the team.

What Terry Francona did not only silenced the media and took the pressure off Ortiz, he protected the core of the rest of the team and the organization from the same kind of pressure…a great leadership response on his part. 

The result of Terry Francona’s leadership was exactly as one would expect…Ortiz did come out of his slump in grand fashion and has been on a hot streak for the past several weeks.  Now, one could say that Ortiz would have come out of his slump anyway, which is certainly true.  But, the bigger effect of his actions is in how the rest of the team, the fans, and the ownership respond to his ability to manage the media and public scrutiny of their performance. He minimized the effect that external inluences could have on the performance of the team.

(By the way…I am to be congratulated on my objectivity in this post since I am a die hard Yankee fan.)