Some of my most successful endeavors over the past fifty years have come about while working with people I didn’t like very much. I suspect most people have had similar experiences in that regard. It happens in all types of professional settings. Business. Creative arts collaborations. Military. And sports. Getting along with your colleagues is great, and it makes for a more enjoyable working environment, but success is just as often achieved with people who challenge and motivate us, even in ways that could be construed as negative. After all, what’s better than out-performing some obnoxious jerk off you can’t stand? (You know who you are). As long as everyone involved holds team goals paramount, internal squabbling and stress can actually work for you in many situations.
Take the Oakland Athletics of the early 1970’s, for example. The players regularly fought, bickered, and feuded with each other, their manager, and the owner — the one-of-a-kind Charles O. Finley — all while winning five straight division titles and three World Series crowns, not long after abandoning Kansas City for Oakland in 1968. We should all have such hostile work environments, as long as they result in a nice supply of big fat bonus checks (and the accompanying hardware).
Which brings me to the Royals, a franchise long removed from any team bonus checks and hardware scenarios, and Jose Guillen’s recent comments to Jeff Flanagan of FoxSports.com. In one sense, Jose merely said what most of us have long seen. After all, we’ve been living and dying with this train wreck for a helluva lot longer than he has. On the other hand, why is he popping off to some reporter, something sure to create an unnecessary distraction, instead of confronting the offenders in a more straight forward manner, behind closed doors? That’s not good leadership.
Jose has definitely exercised poor judgment in this instance. As a veteran who has created more than his fair share of chaos through various antics over the years, he should know better. And his timing couldn’t be worse. Just when we might actually be in a position to finally get something in return for the $36M in resources he’s soaked up over the past three years, he has to go and remind every potential suitor exactly why they should be leery of adding his personality into the mix of a successful organization.
Focus on your own game, Jose. And challenge your teammates in private. Otherwise, you’re just grandstanding for the press. And nobody on this team is good enough to get away with that, with one possible exception (and he wouldn’t do it, even if he could get away with it).