7 Things Leaders Can Learn From the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals -World Series Champs - Kansas City Star
World Series Champions – 2015 Royals
Photo courtesy: Kansas City Star

I am one of those sports fan who had, until this year, never had a team, college or professional, win a league-wide championship. I have enjoyed several seasons of KSU Big12 conference success (GO CATS!) and a few brief shining moments of Kansas City Chiefs football success. However, for 27 of the 29 years of my life, I had been a Royals fan waiting for something magical to happen. Lightning to strike. God to intervene.

Well, Kansas City Royals fans all over this nation are rejoicing at a World Series Championship 30 years in the making. On Sunday night, the Royals won Game 5 of the World Series and became the 111th World Series Champions in the 12th inning over the New York Mets. We have been crowned. A fandom rejuvenated. A dream come true.

There is a legion of reasons this team came back to win in 2015 after losing in the 7th game of the 2014 World Series. This is a team of many strengths, which are applicable in life, jobs and relationships, not just baseball. So I give you 7 Things Leaders Can Learn From the Kansas City Royals.

1. Expect to Win – The Royals go into their games expecting to win. Don’t mistake this confidence for cockiness. They aren’t loudly parading their talents for all to see or talking smack to other teams – but they are also aren’t feebly going into games hanging their heads. They are going into every game mentally prepared to win.
Bottom line — If you don’t expect to win, are you expecting the alternative?

2. Set Goals –  From day one of spring training camp, the team’s goal was to get back to the World Series and address their unfinished business. Their team goal wasn’t to win the AL Central or to have seven players on the All-Star game AL roster. The goal was to get back to the World Series and win it all. Take the Crown. There is a plethora of research indicating that a source of motivation is the desire to reach a goal and if you aren’t setting goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Bottom line — You’re more likely to be successful if you are setting measurable and attainable goals.

The Kansas City Royals celebrate their ALCS Championship on Oct 23 in Kauffman Stadium
The Royals celebrate their ALCS Championship on Oct 23 in Kauffman Stadium

3. Execute – The Royals’ game plan is to keep the line moving. Get on base, push runners home. Don’t make mistakes and be unbeatable defensively. Lots of teams have plans, but very few carry out those plans. True to form, the 2015 Royals made their dreams come true by sticking to the plan – get on base and play excellent defense. In the 2015 post season, the Royals made only three errors. The three teams the Royals played in the post season made a combined 16 errors (Astros – 2, Blue Jays – 5, Mets – 9). Talk about some damn good defense. Additionally, the Royals had an OBP (on-base percentage) of .322 in the postseason, which was higher than all three of their postseason opponents. They were #1 in postseason OBP and #11 in regular season. The Royals play as team, keep the line moving, get on base and don’t make mistakes.
Bottom line — Make a plan that culminates with success and put every ounce of energy into attaining that success. Take the steps needed to be successful.

4. Be Aggressive and Take Risks – One of the many strengths of the Royals is their aggressive base running. It’s risky, yes, but they end up winning big because of big risks. In Game 5 of the World Series, Mets player David Wright threw from third base to first to get Salvador Perez out but he left just a nickel of time for Eric Hosmer to score. It was a risk on the part of Hosmer but one that paid off big with the tying run. 
Bottom line —  If you aren’t aggressive and don’t take risks, you miss out on some big rewards. Go for the unknown, swing for the fence and hang on for dear life.

5. Make the Most of The Situation – In 2010, Zach Greinke, the best player in the Royals franchise at the time, demanded to be traded to a team that had a chance at winning – so off he went to the Milwaukee Brewers. That trade brought in Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar who happen to be the 2014 and 2015 ALCS MVPs, respectively. Other teams would have hung their heads at losing their best player but the Royals rallied together and grew as a team.
Bottom line — Work with what you have to improve your situation. You never know where the next diamond in the rough will come from.

6. Believe – The Royals believed that they would win. Wholeheartedly, they came to take the crown and bring a World Series Championship back to Kauffman Stadium. They firewalled the negative media saying that they couldn’t return to the series and went about their business. They believed in themselves and got an entire fan base to believe in the dream. Look where it got them? Crowned.
Bottom line — If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will either.

7. NEVER Quit – Lorenzo Cain said it best in his post game interview and it was a big theme during the World Series parade and pep rally – the Royals have a don’t quit attitude. Even when you are down in the 8th or 9th inning, don’t give up. The Royals scored 40 runs in the 8th or 9th inning during the 2015 post season. Forty runs. No other team had more than five. That’s playing until to the last strike and staying focused on the goal. Additionally, this post season the Royals came from behind to win eight times and seven of those times were deficits of two runs. Even if you don’t watch baseball, it’s easy to wrap your mind around the magnitude of eight come-from-behind wins.
Bottom line — Never give up. Never give in. Keep pushing, scratching and climbing to you get to the top.

View of Pep Raly in Kansas City for Royals
800,000+ Kansas City Royals fans converged in front of Union Station and along the World Series parade route to celebrate the newly crowned 2015 World Series Champs. I was not super close, as you can see, but I could see the stage and the parade from my bird’s eye view!

If you are a Royals fan, and by now you should be, you can relive the 2015 season by reading these great stories. Also, get your World Series Champions gear – I’m going to spend a pretty penny to outfit myself in advance of the parade today and opening day in April!

Be Royal!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~