Do You Manage Your Team Like a Bowling or Baseball Team?

Written by lewsauder

November 25, 2013

Manage your team

How do you manage your team?

If you ask any manager, he or she would most likely tell you they manage a team.  Some will go as far as to tell you that they’re not a manager, they are a coach.  They’re just there to help the team succeed.

There has never been a shortage of sports analogies in the business world.  We hit home runs in our presentations. Or it may be fourth and long on a particular sale until we throw up the Hail Mary and score a touchdown!

Manage your team like a baseball team…

I’m a sports fan myself and my favorite sport is baseball. When I think of a team playing together, I imagine a batter that lays down a sacrifice bunt in order to move the runners across, or an outfielder backing up another outfielder in case his teammate misses that high fly ball.

That’s what players on a team do.  They make sacrifices to allow others to advance and they back each other up for the team to succeed.

Manage your team like a bowling team…

I have a friend who is an avid bowler.  He was once talking to me about the bowling team he was on. I questioned him on it and the conversation went something like this.

“How does bowling work as a team sport?”

“We try to find the five best bowlers we can find and we play against another team each week in our league.”

“Aren’t you just tallying up each individual’s total score and comparing it to the same for the other team?”

“Well… yes.  That’s how it works.”

“Do you ever have to back the guys up on your team?”

“How would you do that?”

“If someone bowls a first ball that leaves a tough pickup, say the seven-pin; do you bring in someone that’s good at picking up seven-pins?”

“Of course not! Each bowler has to pick up their own spares.”

“So it’s not really a bowling team.  It’s really more of a bowling group, a group of individuals that total up their scores against the totals of another group of individuals. They don’t really play together; they just kind of play at the same time.”

“No, it’s a bowling team.  They don’t call them bowling groups.”

And on and on it went.  The point I was trying to make was that a real team interacts with more than just high-fives when someone does well. They work together to pull off a double play or make some kind of sacrifice to help the team.

See my related post: Tell Me Again About Your Great Leadership

What kind of team do you manage?  Are they like a baseball team that helps each other out?  A team who’s total is greater than the sum of the parts?  A team that actually works together?

Or is it more like a bowling team that’s really just a group of people working at the same time?

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

Lew’s Books at Amazon:

Project Management 101
Consulting 101
The Reluctant Mentor

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