Magazine article American Banker

Baseball Skipper Tony la Russa Shares Success Lessons

Magazine article American Banker

Baseball Skipper Tony la Russa Shares Success Lessons

Article excerpt

Byline: Jackie Stewart

NEW ORLEANS -- There are a number of correlations between being a baseball manager and running a community bank.

Integrity, communication and trust are all essentials, whether in the dugout or a bank branch, Tony La Russa, Hall of Fame manager, told attendees at this year's Independent Community Bankers of America conference. La Russa, who managed the Oakland A's, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox over three decades of coaching, also emphasized the importance of community and showing people that you care on a personal level.

Customers will "respect and trust you if they know you care about them as members of the community -- and not just whether they take out a loan," La Russa said.

La Russa, who won three World Series as a manager, noted that an organization's leader must "set certain philosophies" and earn respect by showing others that "you have the talent and you're willing to work to develop that talent and skill."

Competing the right way is also important, La Russa said, adding that leaders "have to be able to look in the mirror."

La Russa drew loud applause from the audience when he noted that community bankers had an advantage over megabanks when it comes to communication

"You have to be hands on," La Russa added. "You can't just sit there and send out emails and memos."

La Russa told attendees that he played badly for 16 years -- he hit an anemic .199 with no home runs over six seasons -- before becoming a manager, joking that he had asked the Encyclopedia of Baseball to redact his statistics. He also used his time on stage to share stories of coaching the likes of the stolen-base king Rickey Henderson and ace pitcher Chris Carpenter.

During one game, Carpenter -- who La Russa called "very special" -- was clearly struggling. Hitters were continuously putting the ball into play and finding gaps in the outfield. …

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