In Game Six of the 1995 World Series, pitcher Tom Glavine took to the mound for the Atlanta Braves and pitched a masterpiece, going eight innings and giving up only one hit to the Cleveland Indians.
There was a lot of weight on Glavine’s shoulders that October night. After having spent much of the 1980s in the cellar, the Braves had come close twice in the early 1990s to winning a World Series but had fallen short both times. But, as Glavine headed off the mound in the eighth inning with a 1-0 lead, he turned to manager Bobby Cox and asked to be taken out of the game, much to the displeasure of the more than 50,000 Braves fans in attendance.
Glavine realized he had run out of gas against the Indians. But, over the years, he had built up a strong relationship with Cox, earing his manager’s trust. Glavine knew what he was capable of better than anyone else and gladly stepped aside as closer Mark Wohlers came in to pitch. After his strong performances in two games, Glavine was named the World Series MVP, a high point for a pitcher who always knew how to evaluate himself.
The two most significant indicators that a team can be great are its level of grit and the strength of its glue. Today I’m sharing the first of a two-part blog about these characteristics and how they can help as you build your great team.
Great teams need to bring in people who value being challenged over being comfortable, one of America’s leading experts on recruiting has found, putting in canine terms who the best organizations want and who they should avoid. From studying athletic teams, colleges, school districts, and businesses, Brad Black, the president and CEO of HUMANeX Ventures, says teams “need to bring in more terriers and avoid poodles.”
Black measures two key components of great teams: the depth of their grit, and the strength of their glue. Grit measures how a team drives ahead, responding to adversity and constantly improving its performance. Glue measures how a group sticks together, how its members coalesce into an effective team, especially in tough times.
Even though he won three World Series with the Baltimore Orioles and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame, some of the defining moments in Jim Palmer’s pursuit of greatness took place at the low levels of the minor leagues, learning from a great instructor in Cal Ripken, Sr.
In his new book “Nine Innings to Success: A Hall of Famer’s Approach to Achieving Excellence,” Palmer, a Hall of Fame pitcher who spent his entire major league career in Baltimore, relates how he learned the “Orioles Way,” a focus on professionalism, training, evaluation, and fundamentals, from Ripken.
“We’re going to outwork all the teams that we’re going to play,” Ripken told Palmer and his teammates in Aberdeen, South Dakota. “We’re going to come out here every day and try to get a little better in our craft. And we’re going to have fun doing it.”