Leadership- Yesterday vs. Today

When I was a kid, there was probably little I wanted to do more than play football.  I fully enjoyed the sport.

We didn’t have much money as a family, so I waited until I was entering Junior High School and was ready.

I remember my dad took me for the required physical.  The doctor had to sign off on my health and didn’t really want to.  He told me I was healthy, but I was small.  He suggested I wrestle instead so I could play with kids my own size.

I have never been interested in wearing a unitard which fails to cover one’s nipples.

I insisted that I wanted to play football.  Basketball in the winter.  Baseball in the spring.

The doctor tried one more time and signed what he needed to sign and my dad signed the waiver and I was ready to play.

One thing I knew was that I was fast.  I wanted to play receiver and defensive back.  We all went out on that first season and ran and ran.  For two solid weeks.  The amount of kids who were running around the football field probably dropped in half after ten workouts.

It was real work.

The people on the television make it look easy.

But I won the job of starting receiver and safety that season.

It was in my second season that I really started to learn about myself.  I was upset that I showed up on that first day of practice and was somehow not the starting receiver.  But I worked for it, got the attention of the coach, and earned the job.

The coach of that team ran the ball almost exclusively.  In fact, I remember him attempting only one pass and he had only one passing play in the playbook.  Similarly, he put seven people on the defensive line.  He was taking advantage of the fact that we were all too young to really throw the ball effectively.  This coach was in his 60’s and this was back in the mid-80’s.  I’ve always understood that he came from another generation.

He wasn’t of the high flying San Diego philosophy of the time.

So much had changed in the time that television started broadcasting football.

So I had to take a position on the defensive line.  Something I wasn’t all that interested in.  Yes, I wanted to play, but I wasn’t all that big, as discussed above, and wasn’t interested in the struggle at the line.

Here’s where I’m pretty much ready to shift.

We were practicing one afternoon.  I was on the defensive line.  The coach told the offense to go on one.  As the ball was snapped, I felt his foot hit my ass.

He didn’t know who Red Foreman would be, but apparently that was his thinking

I got the point.  Get off the line faster.  I think he could have delivered that message better.  But this is back when teachers beat children rather regularly.

In a different point I may make another time, I didn’t finish a third season.  That’s financial and I believe it’s a timely discussion.

Fast forward to about a month ago.  I’m watching a Spring Training baseball game.

I’ve written often how much I enjoy baseball and how much the beginning of the season means to me.  This is also how long I’ve been thinking of writing on this topic.

The announcers were discussing the stark contrast of the current management and the managers from when they played 20 plus years ago.

Baseball managers have long been known for having a temper.  There’s videos of many managers red faced, kicking dirt, throwing bases, and on and on.  Such great comedy.  These old school managers were foot in your ass managers.

The announcers were saying that the current management was more interested in staying calm, analyzing statistics and trends, and creating a comfortable atmosphere for the players.

The announcer continued, with the amount of money these players make, if a manager pushes players too hard, they’ll just go somewhere else.

Over 600 words.  I want to get to my point.

I’ve had many different kinds of bosses.  People learn from those whom they responded best.  Some people like to get kicked in the ass.  There’s a whole bunch of people who enlist into the military.

The military was never for me.  Neither was getting kicked in the ass.

I’ve been a leader for many years.  I believe in analysis.  I believe in measurements and metrics.  I believe that people need to go to work, be on time, and do their part to achieve the goals of the group.  Can’t start a game late.

But, much like the announcers on the game were saying, I’ve always believed if I treat those who report to me well, they will perform better for me and come back.

Unlike the argument about baseball players making so much money they can just refuse to play, wages are so low in this world that there is simply too much competition at the minimum wage level.

The minimum wage in my state is $11/hour.  One may be able to get up to $12.50 or $13 someplace.   While an extra couple of dollars can be a couple months’ rent and certainly helped with bills, there’s another job around and it’s not worth getting your ass kicked on a daily basis.  The young change jobs so often.  This wasn’t always the case.

Think about that minimum wage.  $440/week.  $1,760/month.  One can’t even find an apartment in this area for less than $1,000/month.  And there will be taxes taken out of that wage.  Gas.  Food.  Life.

Even at the extra $320/month at the high end of the scale, you better not need anything extra in your life.  Better not get sick.  It’s definitely not going to give anybody a great quality of life.

In fact, management really should take into consideration that the people reporting to work these days are already getting their ass kicked in life.

But this about management style.  This is about old school “kick you in the ass” because good luck getting a better job than this one vs I take care of my people and give goals so they will work for me tomorrow.

There’s been too much change over the last forty years.  The distribution of wealth has changed the landscape.  And, furthermore, the need for a more robust working class has changed the landscape of the workplace.  People have to be more sensitive.  They have to take others into account.

Mad Men and All in the Family is the past.

Our leaders should all evolve.



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