This week, there were two sports stories that had me scratching my head. They had me thinking, “Wait, did that really happen?”
First, there was the news that Geno Auriemma committed a secondary violation of NCAA rules when he called Mo’ne Davis to congratulate her on her outstanding play in the Little League World Series. Davis, the 18th girl ever to participate in the event, became the first girl in history to pitch her team to a victory. During an interview with the media, Mo’ne mentioned that her dream is to be the point guard for the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team. This is where Auriemma comes in. Auriemma is the head coach of the Connecticut team. After hearing about Mo’ne’s interview, he called to congratulate her on her success and encourage her to keep working hard and pursuing her dreams. A coach of another team that competes against Connecticut called the NCAA to say that Auriemma committed a recruiting violation by calling Davis; and the NCAA has since confirmed that a secondary recruiting violation did occur. So what is worse, the fact that it’s a violation to call and congratulate a young person who dreams of playing for your team or the fact that a grown adult was so upset by this that they called to report it?
In other news, an 8-year-old boy who sent a hand-written letter to the Pittsburgh Pirates, seeking his favorite player’s autograph, received a written response telling him he could get an autograph if he donated money to a Pirates charitable organization. It’s unfortunate that autograph seekers (who gather autographs and attempt to sell them online) have caused teams to create policies like the one the Pirates have. But one would hope that such policies could be flexible and allow for exceptions, especially when a young fan is involved.
Both stories are disappointing statements about our world of sports today. In the first, a coach tried to do something nice for a young fan and was turned in for violating a rule that, perhaps, shouldn’t even exist. In the second, a professional sports organization had the chance to do something nice for a young fan and really dropped the ball.
In both cases, rules, policies, and procedures are standing in the way of good old-fashioned niceness. Why do we make it so hard to be nice? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we made it easier to be nice to others?
As leaders, we have the opportunity to help establish a culture within our organizations. I think it’s time more of our cultures included just basic niceness…..being nice to our co-workers, our supervisors, our competitors, and our customers.
This week, take some time to look at your policies. Take some time to evaluate your culture. Do your policies and procedures make it hard for your team members to be nice? Do you discourage niceness or reward it? If you make it easy for your team members to be nice, I think you’ll find your team will be more excited about coming to work and more engaged with each other and your customers. And your customers will reward your niceness by being loyal and returning to do business with you again. That’s not a bad return for something so easy as being nice!
Thanks for reading,
P.S. – Check out my website at http://www.jvearle.com and keep me in mind if you hear of any opportunities to share my thoughts on leadership.