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What Leaders Can Learn from Derek Jeter

What Leaders Can Learn from Derek Jeter

When Derek Jeter hangs up his spikes this fall, he will be remembered as one of the greatest Yankees of all-time. His excellence on the field certainly helped him attain that status, but his character is what truly makes him a Hall of Famer in our book. Jeter’s integrity serves not only as a model for those in pro sports, but for all professionals.

If you want to build a fan base at your company, take a few queues from this baseball pro:

Come Through in the Clutch

In sports, an athlete who performs best under extreme pressure gains a reputation as a “clutch player.” These individuals relish a challenge and produce their best results in the face of adversity. Jeter consistently demonstrates an innate ability to read high-stakes situations and make the smart choice. Why swing for a home run when a sacrifice fly to the outfield could easily score the winning run? Similarly, excellent leaders perform best, even in extreme situations, by reading the situation and enabling others to help achieve company goals.

Avoid the Blame Game

Not every season produces a World Series win. Nonetheless, Jeter has never blamed his teammates, coaches or the umpires for failing to bring home the championship trophy. During the off-season, he takes responsibility for underperforming and trains to get back on track. Leaders worth following earn their respect by refusing to point a finger elsewhere and by putting in the necessary work to overcome challenges in the future.

Don’t Showboat

In the 2000 World Series between the Mets and Yankees, Jeter hit a game-tying home run. Despite a frenzied stadium of ecstatic fans, Jeter ran those bases with his head down. No showboating necessary. He showed a deep respect for his opponents − refusing to celebrate their mistake as he rounded the bases. That night his team won the game and the series as Jeter was named MVP. Exceptional leaders also know how to show class in victory and in defeat.

Know When to Hang It Up

Distinguishing characteristics of professional sports players often include determination, drive, and perseverance. “Knowing when to quit” rarely makes the list as it seems counterintuitive to the competitive nature that made most players so successful. As a business leader, knowing when to hang it up may mean recognizing when a project is no longer viable and refocusing efforts elsewhere, or even exiting the company entirely so that a new regime can grow the organization.

Whether you’re a 14-time All-Star or a middle manager captaining a new team of employees, leaving a lasting impression requires true character. We tip our caps to you, Mr. Jeter, for showing us how.

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