Starters, Middle Relief and Closers in the Workplace

As we continue our discussion of the relationship between baseball and the workplace I wanted to take a pause and review quickly where we have been.

We first discussed some of the general relationships between baseball and the workplace.

We next discussed the difference between “Small Ball” and “Gorilla Ball” in the workplace.

A few days ago we reviewed the concept of the sacrifice and reviewed how that relates to business.

In today’s post we will discuss another concept, one that relates to leadership and management in the business world as well as in the world of baseball.

Baseball has three unique types of pitchers:

  • starting pitchers are those who come out first-many have the capacity to pitch the entire game and they also command high salaries and attention
  • middle relievers take up when the starter tires or falters-middle relievers are becoming more specialized, but they are typically charged with holding the score in place
  • closers come in to finish the game-a good closer understands pressure well and he/she can put out fires that develop without losing their cool

Let’s look at the parallels of each of these in the workplace.

The starter can be characterized in number of ways in business.  Some starters are the “start up” people who help you build a business from scratch.  They set the table for the future of the business and they also have great leadership ability and know how to command the respect of others.  A good starter has several pitches and a good leader also has the ability to shift his/her approach in order to overcome the opponent and “retire the side”, a baseball phrase.

The middle reliever is somewhat different than the starter.  Some middle relievers come in for special situations to face maybe one or just a handful of batters.  They are the situation people, much like the “change agents” we see in the world of work.  A good change agent realizes that he/she has a limited time in any business and they come in to complete a specific task.  Change agents develop a reputation for addressing certain situations well just as middle relievers do the same in a baseball game.

Closers are more and more valuable in baseball.  They have the same value in business.  Like a middle reliever, a closer comes in typically during a challenging situation and their goal is to hold the lead and win the game for their team.  They have a short shelf life and may be called upon quite often.  Good closers may use several pitches and they have to be ready on short notice.

Closers in the world of work come in to close things out.  This may mean they help get a company ready for sale, help finish out a major project, or help close a company down.  All of these are high pressure situations and not for the faint of heart.  A good closer has solid emotional intelligence and he/she knows how to integrate quickly to the team and how to acclimate to almost any situation.

Starters, middle relievers and closers are all crucial for baseball success and business success.

Think about whether you are a starter, middle reliever or closer.  Which would you prefer to be?

We will talk more in our next post about how to prepare for each of these roles.

Until then you need to keep up the practice and keep your arm loose.

You never will know when the call will come.