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Cases: Case 1-1 Joe Maddon, Manager of the Chicago Cubs
Joe Maddon has been the manager of the Chicago Cubs since 2015. In his first year, he exceeded the expectations of most analysts and fans by leading the team to an appearance in the National League Championship Series. In 2016, he broke the alleged “curse” that has hung over the team for more than 100 years and won the World Series against the Cleveland Indians in a thrilling seven-game series.
Although Joe Maddon is a “manager” of a baseball team rather than a traditional corporation, he is an excellent example of the key role that a manager plays in the effectiveness and success of any kind of team. First, he devotes significant time to developing strong relationships with his players through open and honest communication on a regular basis. Second, he focuses not only on the outcome (i.e., to win) but also on the process by doing the things the “right way.” Third, he likes to emphasize staying loose and having fun. He is known for creating t-shirts with humorous sayings on them, such as “Try Not to Suck.” He also likes to hold “dress-up road trips” during which players wear crazy suits or onesies. By keeping things light and fun, Maddon believes that players will be more relaxed and perform better on the field. Fourth, Maddon believes in the “art of doing nothing.” Rather than using a regimented approach to training and game preparation that is put into practice on a weekly basis, he encourages players to “just show up” for games. In fact, the Cubs take less formal batting practice than any other team in the league. Fifth, Maddon is an “outside-the-box” thinker who does not hesitate to make unconventional and risky decisions. For example, he has used pitchers like John Lackey as a pinch hitter in a key extra- innings situation with the game on the line. He has used pitchers to play field positions, and he rotates his position players to other positions. Maddon is willing to go against the grain if he feels that it can help the team win.
Joe Maddon’s unconventional but highly effective management style has some key lessons for managers in other types of organizations. These include “instill a positive and upbeat attitude in the culture of the team,” “stay loose and productive,” “be old and new school” (i.e., be open to new approaches such as data analytics, but balance this with an emphasis on fundamentals), and “don’t be the center of attention” (maintain a small ego and focus on the team as the key focus).
Discs

What types of resources does Joe Maddon control as the manager of the Chicago Cubs?
What types of management skills does Joe Maddon use as the manager of the Chicago Cubs?
How does Joe Maddon carry out the four management functions as the manager of the Chicago Cubs?
How does Joe Maddon apply contingency theory of management in his job as manager of the Chicago Cubs?
Would you like to work for a manager like Joe Maddon? Why or why not?
What is there to learn about how to be a good manager in a business organization based on studying coaches from the sports industry?

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