By Eileen L. Berman, Ed.D.
The current Red Sox collapse is a remarkable example of management gone awry. As a result, Terry Francona, manager of the Boston Red Sox, resigned. He was reputedly one of the best managers in baseball given his record of wins during an eight year period. Listening to what he had to say about his management style in the wake of this “disaster” is a lesson worth heeding. While he was ostensibly in charge of the team, he said he couldn’t seem to pull it together to function effectively.
From all reports, Francona was a “hands-off” manager. He was quiet, patient, and easy-going with his players, always giving them the benefit of the doubt. Francona said he left it to the players to decide whether or when to work out and/or go for conditioning; he talked with the team about drinking in the clubhouse during games and the need for a team to take care of each other. Unfortunately, his words never were translated into appropriate action by the players. Was this a “team” or a group of players functioning more as individuals but wearing the same uniforms and playing together?
Money definitely comes into play here as well. Do the disparate salaries among the players, particularly when they do not perform well, promote solidarity or resentment, envy or discontent? Do the long-term contracts and huge salaries create players who cannot be welded into a team?
Did they have any rules? If so, were they enforceable? Did the players … who made astronomical amounts of money (far more than Tito earned)…feel they were “above the law”?
From what we read, we may wonder whether Francona was the adult in charge. That’s the question that begs for an answer. Did Francona have responsibility without authority? What was the infrastructure like? What was the philosophy of the CEO and owners?
All this may well be reflective of our current society. Individualism, little or no respect for authority, lack of enforcement of rules (where there are rules!), and the worship and power of money as a reflection of self-worth. Much of this is rampant in our schools, businesses, and sports teams. In any of these areas, who is really in charge? The teachers, the managers, the parents?
These questions have to be addressed in every school system, business and family. What are the rules? Are they enforceable? Is everyone on board to pursue the goals and objectives of the organization? If not, what are the consequences?
The collapse of the Boston Red Sox is really a human interest story. If we pay attention to it as it unfolds, we may learn a great deal about our society as to what is wrong and what we have to do to make it right.
Dr. Eileen Berman is a licensed psychologist/consultant in East Greenwich, R.I. She is the author of 2 books: Dealing Effectively With Job Loss and Building Productivity, and has a website: rebuildyourcareer.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.