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Five Leadership Lessons from Eric Hosmer and the Kansas City Royals

This is yet another post about Eric Hosmer, first baseman for the Kansas City Royals. He's been playing in the major leagues for less than five years and recently turned 26. But this is not a baseball blog post. It's a post about leadership.

By most traditional definitions, Hosmer would not be classified as a "leader." He's not all that experienced. He's young. He doesn't have titular authority.

Even so, he exhibits characteristics many leaders lack. As a result, he gets things done.

Take, for example, what happened last week in Game 5 of the World Series. Top of the 9th inning, Hosmer on third, Royals down 2-1 with one out. A groundball to third, easy lob to the Mets first baseman to get the second out.... But wait. Hosmer takes off as soon as the ball leaves the third baseman's hand, a risky move at best.

Hosmer himself doubted the move. He's been quoted as saying that he regretted taking off, considered it to be a mistake.

Despite those thoughts, he kept running. He didn't look back, he didn't slow down. He gave it his all, diving for home plate.

He was safe. The game was tied. The Royals went on to win the game -- and the World Series -- with a score of 7-2 in the 12th inning.

What if he had played it safe and, as expected, stayed put on third base?

What if those doubts had slowed him down?

What if the fear of making a mistake had seized Hosmer in that crucial moment? After all, Hosmer lost a ball into the infield in the sixth inning and was charged with an error. The freshness and sting of that error could have held him back.

In the moment, though, Hosmer trusted his instincts and ran. Once he started, he kept going with commitment and determination. He wasn't tentative despite the risk.

But this wasn't an impulsive move. It wasn't a lucky stroke. Hosmer's decision to run and his confidence to continue running were founded in facts. This was a calculated risk.

Scouting reports had revealed that the Mets first baseman had an Achilles Heel. Knowing that he might not deliver in a situation exactly like this one made Hosmer's move less a gamble than an opportunity seized.

So what does his leadership example offer the rest of us? As leaders, we can take five lessons from this one Hosmer moment:

1) Trust your team. You have scouting reports, too. Are you paying attention to the information gathered, the history revealed, the competitive intelligence right at your fingertips? Are you asking others for their opinions and input?

2) Trust your instincts. Stop second guessing yourself. Instead, push yourself to seize opportunities. When you need to have an impact, do the unexpected. If you are always analyzing instead of acting, you may find yourself stranded on base at the end of every game.

3) Commit. Once you make a move, give it your all. If you're only partially committed, you'll only be partially successful. If you experience doubt, keep running to the plate. If you are tagged out, so what? Making a full on effort is always better than bailing out too soon.

4) Stay in the moment. Be alert and opportunistic. Don't ever go on autopilot and expect someone else to signal you when the moment is now or never. Hosmer made this decision on his own without a coach's input or permission. He was only able to do this because he recognized the unique possibility in that split second when the ball was thrown to first.

5) Play fearlessly. Royals manager Ned Yost was quoted as saying "We just want our players to play fearlessly. You cannot be the best if you are afraid." Hosmer was at his very best. He led the team because he showed no fear. By tying the game, he put the game into extra innings. His confidence was contagious, infusing the Royals dugout with hope and determination. Fearful leaders inspire no one.

Hosmer led his team to victory. He believed in himself, and he made things happen. As a leader, how can you seize an opportunity, stay committed and dive for home plate?

If you'd like to read more in this CONNECT2Lead series about how the Kansas City Royals 2015 team exemplifies strong leadership, check back every Monday morning or subscribe to our RSS feed.

CONNECT 2 Lead graphic smalThe CONNECT2Lead Blog and training programs are products of People First Productivity Solutions. We build organizational strength by putting people first. For more about leading by connecting, check back each Monday or subscribe to the CONNECT2Lead Blog RSS Feed.

Topics: CONNECT2LEAD Blog, connect2lead, emerging leaders, Leaders, leadership, leadership development

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