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Robert Goodwin

Robert Goodwin

Robert J. Goodwin is CEO and co-founder of Executives Without Borders; former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and appointee at USAID, the State Department and the White House.

Steinbrenner: Getting the best at any cost

Q: George Steinbrenner violated just about every rule of the leadership handbook, yet he brought tremendous success to the NY Yankees, both on and off the field. What does this say about the conventional wisdom on leadership?

As is the case in most business ventures, Major League Baseball owners must continually seek to satisfy two constituencies, employees and consumers. And in the realm of professional sports, nothing is more important to these internal and external audiences than winning.

When the Yankees were mired in a decades-long slump between World Series Championships in 1977 and 1996, George Steinbrenner was a man that many Yankee fans, managers, and players found hard to love. Of course, that all changed with a historic run of success in the years since. Steinbrenner's hard-nosed, no-nonsense, anything-it-takes-to-win leadership style evolved from a detriment to asset as he, his players, and Yankee fans the world over collected pennant after pennant.

But there's more to Mr. Steinbrenner's ultimate success than results. During a losing streak that would have likely sent most professional sports owners into the witness protection program, there was never any doubt about his desire to see his team succeed.

Fans and those within the Yankee organization may have had plenty of reason to question moves such as the multiple hirings and firings of Billy Martin or the trading of Jay Buhner, but they could never doubt the level of Mr. Steinbrenner's resolve, dedication, or commitment. The Yankees had a man at the helm who would stop at nothing and spare no expense to put the best team possible on the field. In so doing, he demonstrated to leaders everywhere that passion is every bit as important as wisdom.

That being said...Go Red Sox!!

By Robert Goodwin

 |  July 16, 2010; 1:19 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Sports Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Bully in the dugout | Next: Beat it down to size

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