Facing Adversity – Ron Washington Style

I live in the Dallas Fort Worth area… as such, I’ve been completely consumed with the excitement of the Texas Rangers making the World Series.

And while there are so many amazing story lines with this young team… the aspect I want to highlight in this article is the way Ron Washington, the manager of the Rangers, handles adversity.

Don’t Act a Fool!

On a recent radio show Washington explained why he rarely loses his mind when his team is obviously on the end of a bad call.

He essentially said that if he loses his mind and “acts a fool” then his team will see this and potentially sense things are going badly thus feeling the need to press things.

Washington feels that this approach would not benefit his young team so he does his best to maintain his composure.

Lesson for Business Leaders

When I first heard this I really appreciated Washington’s approach from a sports perspective.

But the more I thought about it the more I realized there is tremendous value in this approach for all leaders of people.

You see, I personally believe that allowing your emotions to rule the way you communicate does nothing but harm in the short term and the long term.

The reasons may be different than the sports scenario Washington speaks of… but in the end, screaming and yelling during crisis situations, rarely adds value in my opinion.

Do you agree?

What do you think of Ron Washington’s style? Do you agree with it?

What about from a business perspective? Do you agree that keeping your cool and not “acting a fool” is the best way to go? Or do you think there is a time and place for a good old fashioned butt chewing?

6 Comments

  1. Frank Adler

    October 25, 2010 - 10:17 am

    I agree that hollering at people adds little to no value no matter if you are coaching a sports team or running a company. The people screaming normally do long term damage if you ask me.

  2. Mark Welch

    October 25, 2010 - 11:04 am

    From a business perspective, I agree with Ron Washington. It’s very, very rare for me to go down that road, but I will if I’ve been blatantly and aggressively disrespected. For example, I once worked for a manager who was a great guy and very likeable but occasionally bullied and intimidated people. I went to his office after he used these tactics on me one day and gave it back to him, and finished by giving him pointers on how to deliver constructive feedback (NOT in the way we had just given it to each other!). I only did this because I knew underneath him there was a person big enough to admit he’d made a mistake. He did and we moved on. Got to choose these battles carefully and wisely.

  3. Meredith

    October 25, 2010 - 11:05 am

    It’s true, screaming and yelling in anger never adds value, either in sports or the office.

    However, I do think there is an appropriate time and place for leaders to talk about their frustrations, and to allow team members to discuss their frustrations. The office should not be an unemotional place and, in fact, I think it’s damaging for people to “act like everything’s OK” (that is, not say anything) if they’re upset.

    I know in a lot of workplaces that’s not a problem, but here in the nice-nice Pacific Northwest, I feel like there’s too much inappropriate suppression going on in the workplace. It’s essentially dishonest.

  4. John Berk PhD

    October 26, 2010 - 9:15 am

    A leader must always remember that he/she is being observed and the observers (employees, lower-level managers, etc.) are looking for clues and indicators to guide their behavior. This includes everything, from how the leader dresses, their hairstyle, choices in vehicles, diet, etc. and of course, include their communication styles/methods. The leader’s behavior will also have a huge effect on the culture of the organization (value systems, norms, acceptable behavior, etc.).

    I spent a significant portion of my career working with distressed companies and often found that the negative and damaging behaviors that placed the company in distress originated from the leader.

    This phenomena is expecially critical when the leader is attempting to initiate change – talking the talk is not enough. The leader must also walk the walk.

  5. Anonymous

    November 4, 2010 - 7:36 am

    I think yelling is often a sign of a lack of self-control. The only time when raising my voice to my children is really necessary is if things have gotten so loud that instructions can’t be heard. Anger is best used against problems and not people. Having a fit only damages your influence and health.

  6. Brian Buck

    November 9, 2010 - 2:10 pm

    I think opinions or decisions being made without an understanding of the current gemba situation is acting a fool too!

    I agree losing your cool is not constructive leadership. I am in the northwest too and there is too much of being nice and not always honest. You can be frank but not emotionally lose your composure.