Anyone who knows me knows I’m an avid Kansas City Royals fan. The Royals, fresh off a World Series Championship, have come a long way from the cellar they used to permanently inhabit.
How did they do it? Kansas City was a Major League graveyard.
Before he took the job, KC General Manager Dayton Moore was warned that “he couldn’t win in Kansas City” and not to take the job. Despite the odds, Moore rebuilt a downtrodden club by changing the culture.
I wanted to share with you an excerpt from More Than a Season by Dayton Moore, Triumph Books LLC. –Jim Codr
Losing is miserable. Years of losing can wear a person down, and it has a negative effect on the entire organization, the media, and the fan base. When we arrived in Kansas City in June 2006, many in the organization had a defeated and cynical attitude. It was the sarcastic, “great, here we go again” mentality that comes with a lack of success on the field. Heading into 2006, this once-proud and model franchise had seven winning seasons since 1985, but only one (2003) since the strike-shortened season of 1994. The Royals, who battled annually for a playoff spot from 1976 to 1985, hadn’t reached the postseason in 20 years. We understood completely why there was negativity, lack of hope, and frustration within our organization, the media, and the fan base.
Shortly after the 2006 season, we had a leadership retreat to help define the direction of the organization. We discussed the type of player we expected to sign and develop; our hiring processes; and how to improve morale, knowing full well the best and easiest way to keep morale high was to win.
After several days of brainstorming, which included many great ideas and in-depth discussions, we decided we wanted an organization to reflect our values—an organization that we’d want our own sons and families to be a part of. That means, when hiring future area scouting supervisors, would we want that individual scout around our dinner table to discuss opportunities with the Kansas City Royals? Do we want that manager, coach, instructor, or other support staff person at every level around our sons every day? Would we want them influencing our sons? And, if our son was on this team, would we want a particular player competing with him? That only works if you hire the people who reflect your philosophies, principles, and views for building success.
From top to bottom, from Kansas City to rookie ball, we had two goals: we wanted to create a great place to work, and we wanted to motivate ownership to follow our plan for success. Our baseball operations department exists to serve our people in the field, and the only way Royals owner David Glass and his son, team president Dan Glass, were going to be motivated to follow our plan is through complete trust and understanding of our daily processes. The only way we’re going to gain that trust is to communicate with them daily and be completely transparent.
The reason we were successful at developing talent in Atlanta was because it was a great place to work, with leaders who put the players and the organization first and who placed their own needs, wants, desires, and professional ambitions second. It was always about what’s best for the player. Philippians 2:3–4 has always been one of my favorite scriptures on leadership. In The Message’s translation it reads: “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
You change the culture when you have a selfless mindset. Every decision we make needs to be about what’s best for the Kansas City Royals. How were we going to create that selfless attitude and spirit here in Kansas City?”