Last October, the Minnesota Twins made 37-year-old Rocco Baldelli the youngest manager in Major League Baseball.
As a player, Baldelli was a star on the rise, being likened to a young Joe DiMaggio. Cruelly, injuries and a muscle disorder derailed his career before he could truly reach his peak.
Within four seasons of retiring, Baldelli had made such inroads as a coach that he interviewed for five of the six managerial vacancies in the MLB this off-season.
And when you analyze this exchange with a reporter during his introductory press conference, it’s not difficult to understand why he was in such high demand:
Reporter:“This is your first job, everybody knows you’re the youngest manager in Major League Baseball. How do you get these guys to believe in what you’re telling them, with your limited experience?”
Baldelli:“I think you talk to them. You don’t come out the first day and give your semi-interesting spring training speech to the whole team and hope that’s going to do the trick. That’s not how it works. The way it works is, you talk to the players this off-season and get to know them a little bit. Then you get to know them a little more. You take an interest in them, not just their baseball careers, but actually get to know them. I like to know what makes these guys tick and how to get the most out of them on the field, and off it. But it takes time. It doesn’t just happen overnight. I mean, why would someone who doesn’t know me have an exceptional amount of trust in me? They don’t know me, so you build that trust over time, and that’s the part I’m looking forward to. And you don’t know how it’s going to end up, but that’s the only way I know how to do it.”
At the time of writing this, Rocco Baldelli’s Minnesota Twins are the best team in baseball with 40 wins and 18 losses. They’ve won 15 more games than this time last year, and are already 11.5 games ahead of the second placed team in their division.
As a leader, how are you taking an interest in your team and protecting time in your calendar to get to know them?
How are you getting to know what makes them tick both at work, and away from the office?
And are you presuming that they trust you, or are you doing the daily work necessary to build trust over a period of time?
Getting to know the individuals on your team may not happen over night, but Rocco Baldelli is showing is it can have an immediate impact if you just try.