Losing Anthopoulos Is Major League Loss for Blue Jays

By Seijts, Gerard | Ivey Business Journal Online, September/October 2015 | Go to article overview

Losing Anthopoulos Is Major League Loss for Blue Jays


Seijts, Gerard, Ivey Business Journal Online


Although the Toronto Blue Jays didn't go all the way this year, they clearly didn't lack character. This wasn't a fluke. As departing General Manager Alex Anthopoulos recently explained to Maclean's magazine, team management made a concerted effort during the off-season to focus less on "talent and tools and production" and put more emphasis on player "character, make-up, quality of the human being, what kind of teammate they are."

And you don't have to remember the last time that Blue Jays fans were so well served by a competitive team to see just what a difference a change in organizational focus can make.

Character, of course, is a loaded word. Like competencies and commitment, we know it is essential for individual, team and organizational success. But what exactly is character? And what about it leads to success? Utilizing both qualitative and quantitative research, the Ivey Business School's Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute has identified 11 character dimensions that jointly drive performance. They are accountability, collaboration, courage, drive, humanity, humility, integrity, judgment, justice, temperance and transcendence. And the Jays clearly possess these character dimensions in abundance.

For example, after being pulled from the pitcher's mound in Game 4 against the Texas Rangers, when the Jays were up six runs, R.A. Dickey didn't necessarily agree with the decision to bring in David Price. After throwing only 78 pitches, and allowing just five hits and a run, and no walks, Dickey had good reason to want to stay on the mound. But he still showed respect for management after the game, noting "it's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit." For Dickey, it's all about the team and collaboration - as it should be.

And then there is Ryan Goins, who set up a loss in Game 2 of the ALC series, when the Kansas City Royals rallied to win after the Jays' second baseman let a ball drop because he thought right-fielder José Bautista had called it. After the game, Goins didn't try to pass the buck. He demonstrated accountability. "The blame should go on me today," he said. "I gave them that play to start that rally." The next time out, Goins redeemed himself by showing tremendous determination and resiliency - important ingredients of courage - while hitting a homerun and a two-run single that helped win the game.

For demonstrations of drive, look no further than centre-fielder Kevin Pillar and third baseman Josh Donaldson. Pillar clearly earned his "Superman" nickname making those incredible diving catches that leftskid marks on the field while dumbfounding opponents at the same time. Donaldson, meanwhile, could not have shown more dedication than he demonstrated diving into the stands to catch balls or sliding headfirst into home plate to avoid the catcher's tag.

What about transcendence? Instead of dwelling on the past, first baseman Chris Colabello remained future-oriented and inspired others by being inspired during a challenging career. …

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