The Coach You Want Your Kid to Play For; The Leader You Want to Follow

David Belisle, CJ Davock, Trey Bourque

In the age of coaches acting like they’re auditioning for “The League” (see Friday Night Tykes), “The Association,” or “The Bigs,” it’s refreshing to see a coach come along that makes you think, “I want my kid to play for him” or “that’s a leader I’d follow.” One such coach emerged at this year’s Little League World Series (LLWS): David Belisle of the Cumberland, R.I. team.

Like a great leader of an organization, he gave two speeches at two very different times, but both equally hit the mark.

The first came as his team was initially winning their game on Aug. 16, but then fell to a rally and faced being down two runs in their final at-bat of the game. The second came two days later on Aug. 18, where another rally was not meant to be and their LLWS dreams ended.

View a snapshot of both speeches here and the full speech after the loss here.

In an organization there will be times when everything is going right, then a competitor closes in. Or you gave it all you got, but on a certain day, it just wasn’t enough. As a leader, how do you respond to your employees, your team, or your company? Simply, do what Coach Belisle did by following these tips based on some of the themes and sayings in his speeches:

Overcoming Adversity

  • Strike Self-Doubts: Remember what got you here; you have the skills to not only be here, but to succeed.
  • Self-Check: How do you feel? Did you like what just happened? If you don’t like it, do something to change it.
  • Stick It Out: The team had three outs left; the game wasn’t over. If there’s still time on the clock, then there’s still time to make a difference.
  • Strong Finish: You have the power to make a change; you are in control of what comes next; now let’s do it.

After a Defeat

  • No Finish Line Failure: Don’t let the journey be lost at the finish line. Look at what was accomplished up to that point.
  • Expression of Appreciation: “I’m proud of you” are words that can lift spirits like no other. Telling your team what their efforts meant to you as their coach/manager/boss lets them know you value their effort and they made a difference.
  • Keep it in Perspective: Despite the loss, the team was reminded that they made history getting that far and representing their town. Keep the big picture in mind.
  • Future Forecast: Great things are still ahead. The kids had a parade to look forward to, but they also had life lessons on overcoming adversity and working as a team. Going through tough times makes you stronger.

Coach certainly did it the right way. These same tips can work whether you’re leading an executive team of 20, or a group of 12-year-olds who just played their hearts out.




Body Language Says It All at PGA Championship

Rickie Fowler (left) gives Phil Mickelson a fist bump, ironically after Mickelson tied Fowler for the lead in the 2014 PGA Championship.

Rickie Fowler (left) gives Phil Mickelson a fist bump, ironically after Mickelson tied Fowler for the lead in the 2014 PGA Championship.

Sometimes what we don’t say says just as much as what we actually do. At this past weekend’s PGA Championship, we saw not only an epic race to the finish – and a race against daylight – but several subtle signals that let us know what was going through some of the top players’ minds as they made the last golf major of the season a memorable one.

Rickie Fowler, who may have the best major season no one will remember (he’s finished 5th, 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd), and his first-class fist-bumps with playing partner Phil Mickelson showed a sign of respect for his competitor. Not only was Mickelson chasing, and then passing Fowler, but the two seemed to be cheering for one another and offering their congrats after great shots. Think of a fist-bump on the fairways as golf’s silent version of “well played.”

Rory McIlroy, winner of his past three tournaments and two straight majors, seemed to keep a cool head this time around, until he hit his final put in near darkness, then let a triumphant fist pump show what he had been so deftly bottling up during the final day of the championship.

Mickelson, while looking charged up after nailing long puts, also had his face show frustrations, especially when the officials allowed McIlroy and his partner play with Mickelson and Fowler on the final hole…a regular occurrence for us average Joes, but certainly not in a major.

So in any situation, whether it is on the course where even the commentators whisper, or in corporate America, remember:

  • Face-Off: Any scowl, smile or smirk are dead giveaways to what you’re truly feeling. You may not notice it, but others certainly will.
  • Fists of Fury: From fist pumps to fist bumps, both indicate a great deal of emotion. Even when simply clenched, it can be a sign of aggression. Relaxing your hands, even just a bit, can help you keep your poker face.
  • Feel Receptors: People may forget what you say, but not how you make them feel. Whether it’s a cold shoulder or a warm embrace, your body language is communication that everyone understands. And whether you intend to or not, your non-verbal signals speak for you loud and clear.

A ‘Royal’ Learning in Company Communications

Party like it's 1985...the last time the Kansas City Royals made the playoffs.  (Photo via

Party like it’s 1985…the last time the Kansas City Royals made the playoffs. (Photo via

The Kansas City Royals hold the longest playoff drought in professional sports. Their last playoff appearance? The magical season of 1985 when they won the World Series. Sure, there are off years, but an off quarter-century?

But what has fans in the Heartland most frustrated – in the eighth year of General Manager Dayton Moore’s eight-year plan of turning the Royals into a playoff contender – is the continual preaching of “patience” by the organization. This goes along with other messaging miscues just like the scouting, free agent, or player development head-scratchers that seem to coincide with our boys in blue.*

So when trying to turn around an organization, take these into account…and you’ll have better luck improving your perception among both internal and external audiences:

  • Be positive, but don’t proclaim premature victory. At the end of 2013, Moore stated that he felt “like we’ve won the World Series” after not even making the playoffs. As a leader, avoid making false statements, as well as ones that are either laughable or that damn near don’t even make any sense. This is why you don’t hear companies cheer victory when they miss their quarterly numbers…not even by a little bit.
  • Be optimistic, but don’t overpromise: K.C. has been hearing about the great potential of its core group of players. Only problem is they’re not producing…or hitting home runs…or providing run support. There’s a reason the phrase “Under-promise and over-deliver” has been working in the business world for years; realistic expectations are set and both parties benefit when these expectations are exceeded.
  • Be a planner, but the proof is in the pudding: If your best results of a nearly decade-long plan are, at best, average – as in a .500 ball club – either the plan wasn’t that great to begin with or this is the best the plan will produce. Either way, expect your audience to demand better results, especially your shareholders. Want an eight-year plan comparison? The tenure of Royal’s GM Dayton Moore’s began in 2006. So did Twitter.

Someday, those in the “city of fountains” hope the Royals will again sit atop the throne of the baseball world. After all, if the Red Sox can end an 86-year title drought, anyone can do it. (Although it could be worse, just ask the Chicago Cubs; they’re still cursed by a goat.) They just hope pop singer Lorde isn’t right and that they’ll “never be royals” like they were in the late 1980s. At least use the lessons above and give it to your organization straight…like a nice four-seam fastball right down the middle.


*For regular updates on the conundrum that can be the Kansas City Royals, do yourself a favor and follow K.C. Star columnist Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) and Dermatologist by day/Royals prognosticator by night Dr. Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli).