Upon retiring from the Yankees in 2014, Derek Jeter launched the Players’ Tribune, a media company offering elite athletes a platform for engaging directly with fans. Some of the world’s most high-profile athletes (from Kobe Bryant to Venus Williams) have chosen the site to announce career news and explore such issues as racism, violence, family struggles, and poverty. Now, as co-owner and CEO of the Miami Marlins, Jeter has discovered that what he learned on the diamond also applies to his work in the corner office.
In business, as in sports, Jeter says that you have to do your homework. He points to the way athletes talk about playing during pivotal moments in a game: “They say, ‘The game slows down.’ I think the game slows down when you’re prepared. When you’re not prepared, everything seems to speed up.”
Every Player Is Unique
Coaches use individualized tactics to motivate players, and Jeter believes the same approach works in any industry. “You always hear the phrase, ‘Treat everyone the same.’ Well, treat everyone fairly, but don’t treat everyone the same,” he says. “There are different personalities you’re dealing with. Some guys you can yell and scream at; others you’ve got to give a hug to, to get the best out of them. The only way you’re able to tell the difference is if you take the time to get to know them.”
Respect The Call
As a leader, not every decision you make will be popular, and that’s okay. “People may not agree,” Jeter says, “but they have to at least respect that you’re doing it with the best interests of the company in mind. There were times when I didn’t like some of the decisions being made about teammates of mine. But I always knew that the ultimate goal was to have the best team on the field.”
This story was adapted from the Fast Company Innovation Festival.