Winning the World Series is nothing short of a dream come true for life-long Cubs fans. A large part of that success has been attributed to the club's manager, Joe Maddon. Brought on by President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer two seasons ago, Maddon has helped erase decades of heartbreak with an unconventional management style that positions his ballclub to live up to and exceed their potential. Here's how you can use Maddon's leadership style to successfully lead your team.
Create a strategic game plan
When Epstein started in 2011, a plan was built to develop the Cubs into World Series contenders within 5-7 years. Rather than only investing in high-priced free agents that might be past their prime, the Cubs focused on scouting and developing young players. While this approach may have contributed to a few painful seasons, the strategy around young players has clearly paid off.
Similarly, the best way for organizations to access the most talented, high-potential employees is to hire them right out of school. Leaders can model Epstein's approach by investing in a college recruiting strategy, training programs and leadership development.
Hire those who will lead by example
Once the Cubs hired the young bedrocks of the organization, they recruited and traded for the experienced players and free agents, such as Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, David Ross and Aroldis Chapman. This experience comes with a price, but these veteran leaders set the example and have helped guide the younger players.
While experienced employees are expensive, less-experienced hires need to learn from those who will teach and set good examples, as well as contribute to fostering a learning culture. Hire the up-and-coming talent, but bring in the leaders who can help guide and refine the younger talent.
Manage to the culture of your employees
Maddon manages the Cubs differently than he would a more experienced team. Optional batting practice and costume-themed road trips are just a few of the ways he caters to the team's culture.
In the same way that these unique benefits have kept players happy and engaged over the course of a 162-game season, straying away from outdated industry traditions could go a long way toward attracting and retaining top talent. Take a few minutes to think about how you could retire previously used practices to better accommodate the interests of your current employees.
Create a hierarchy of trust
Management hasn't been shy about letting Maddon switch things up. Since his first day on the job, Maddon has taken steps to create an environment that enables players to perform their best when the pressure is at its highest. From special entertainment before some games to scheduled time away from the field, Maddon lets his team have fun, which also speaks to the management above him. They trust him to run the organization how he wants and Joe trusts his players to be responsible employees when given flexibility.
Establish a similar degree of trust with your employees by granting them the flexibility needed to get the job done, while accommodating different work styles.
Put together a diverse team
The Cubs have infused a mix of personalities, ages, experience levels, cultures and backgrounds. There are the young guys - Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras -- who came up through farm system, similar to interns-to-hire. Maddon also signed a few veterans -- Lester, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist -- who bring some much-needed championship experience to the ballclub.
By bringing together a diverse group of employees, it results in great talent, experience, new energy, youth and charisma. That's a recipe for success both on and off the field. A study from ThisWay Global found that 86 percent of millennial females and 74 percent of males consider employers' policies on diversity, equality and inclusion when deciding which company to work for, giving you even greater incentive to build a diverse team that top workers want to join.
Celebrate hard work
As any long-term Cubs fan can tell you, winning isn't easy. That's why Maddon always gives his players 30 minutes to celebrate a well-earned victory, regardless of whether it's the regular season or playoffs.
Make a point to celebrate the accomplishments of your employees whenever the opportunity arises. According to a study from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, 77 percent of employees would work harder if they felt better recognized. From a sponsored team outing to free lunch, a small sign of appreciation may be enough to double their efforts.
Focus on your employees and winning will come
During the 2015 season, the Cubs didn't eclipse the 10 games over .500 mark until August 2. Still though, the initial struggles didn't stop Maddon from laying the foundation for a winning culture that would reverberate throughout the clubhouse for the rest of the season and beyond.
Before focusing on the results, make sure you've taken the time to create a positive culture for your employees. Once the right team and environment are in place, winning will follow.