In my book The 10 Indispensble Practices Of The 2-Minute Leader (click HERE to order), I introduced the concept of the Apex Leader.  Apex Leaders are those individuals who are the very best at what they do.

Over the next six weeks I will be bringing approximately two dozen profiles of Apex Leaders and Apex Organizations.  These leaders will come from the athletic, political, business, non-profit and Christian communities.

In the August 3rd edition of Sports Illustrated, the great baseball writer Tom Verducci profiled who many believe to be the best pitcher in baseball, Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The following are 15 Practices Of The Very Best Leaders we learn from the three-time All Star:

  1. The Very Best Leaders Do Many Things At A Very High Level – Greinke has five pitches he uses.  Most pitchers have only two or three.
  2. The Very Best Leaders Took Time To Mature – Apex Leaders come from a crock pot, not a microwave.  It took seven years to develop one of Greinke’s five pitches.
  3. The Very Best Leaders Have Overcome Great Adversity – At age 22, Greinke was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder.
  4. The Very Best Leaders Never Stop Improving – As great as Greinke has been, at age 31 he is performing at the highest level of his career.
  5. The Very Best Leaders Have A Very Special Talent They Bring To The Organization – Apex Leaders are very unique.  Greinke has photographical recall of his more than 30,000 pitches.
  6. The Very Best Leaders Are Continual Learners – Greinke watches a tremendous amount of video of other major league pitchers.
  7. The Very Best Leaders Learn Lessons Specific To Their Strengths – While you should be humble enough to learn from anyone, Greinke only watches film of pitchers who throw the same type of pitches he does.  Smart.
  8. The Very Best Leaders Make Continual Adjustments – As he has gotten older, Greinke has made adjustments to the five pitches he throws.
  9. The Very Best Leaders Understand Return On Investment – Apex Leaders put their time, energy and resources into people and things which give the greatest return.  Greinke said, “I tried throwing slower (changeups) for a long time.  And it got usable, but it never got good.  So I worked on another one, and it had a lot more potential.”
  10. The Very Best Leaders Care Deeply About Energy Management – The most important thing a leader brings to an organization is energy.  Greinke adds, “There are ways to go about having a really good outing, but that could mess you up for two or three outings aways if you use too much energy in one game.”
  11. The Very Best Leaders Put Their Family First – My greatest leadership responsibilities are as a husband and father.  Regarding the birth of his first child, catcher A.J. Ellis said of Greinke, “He’s been doing his homework on fatherhood.  He’s been asking all of the guys with kids how it changes your life and what to expect.”
  12. The Very Best Leaders Are Resourceful – Apex Leaders always find a way to get the job done.  Ellis noted, “When Clayton (Kershaw) gets in trouble, he’s going to stick to his guns.  Zack is different.  He’s going to find a different way, even if he has to invent something.”
  13. The Very Best Leaders Do Not Waste Time – Time is irreplaceable.  One it has been lost or taken, time is gone forever.  Invest it wisely.  Greinke said of his time between starts, “There’s just a lot of time you have to fill.  You’ve got to figure out what you like to do.”
  14. The Very Best Leaders Are Always Thinking Ahead – Apex Leaders always plan for the future.  For four years, Greinke has broken down game film of potential draft prospects.  He is on a track to one day becoming a quality general manager or scout.
  15. The Very Best Leaders Do Not Confuse Activity With Accomplishment – The fundamental purpose of pitching is to prevent the other team from scoring.  Few do it as well as Greinke.

Which one of these practices you can implement TODAY to become a better leader?

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