Everyone wants the perks that come with being a great leader.  They want the compensation, bonuses, corner office, nice vacations, expense accounts, prime parking spots, first-class flights and fine accommodations.  Everyone wants these perks.  But only a select few are willing to pay the price needed to receive the perks that come with great leadership.

To be a great leader, you must want to be a great leader.

Such an individual is one of the greatest leaders in sports, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.  On March 31, 2014, Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter profiled the future Hall Of Famer.  As I read his article, I realized Molina provides a good template for the price needed for successful leadership.

The following are 10 Prices You Must Be Willing To Pay To Be A Great Leader.  Whether you lead a church, business, non-profit, or athletic organization, this information will make you better.

  1. To Be A Great Leader You Must Pay The Price Of Production – Production builds trust and credibility.  It makes you worth listening to.  Molina is a two-time World Series champion and eight-time All-Star.  He has won eight Gold Gloves, a 2013 Silver Slugger Award, four Platinum Gold Gloves, and six Fielding Bible Awards.  Molina is the finest catcher of his generation.
  2. To Be A Great Leader You Must Put In The Hard Work To Develop Many Skills – Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said, “They (catchers) have to work on so many different facets of the game – blocking, receiving, throwing, their relationship with pitchers, their ability to call a game – and there’s only a finite number of hours in a day.”  Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, “You can have an elite, game-changing catcher from a defensive standpoint, or it could be from an offensive standpoint.  If he combines both?  Rarefied air.”
  3. To Be Great Leader You Must Begin EarlyMalcolm Gladwell introduced everyone to the 10,000 Rule in his landmark book Outliers.  His research indicates you do not become an expert at anything until you have put in 10,000 hours into working on your craft.  Mathematical reality is you have to begin young to get in this amount of time.  As a 16-year-old, Molina was already catching for Puerto Rican national teams.
  4. To Be A Great Leader You Must Listen To Others – Remembering those early days, Molina said, “I was playing with guys who were 32, 35 years old.  They had jobs, families, they’re going out at night, living that life.  Much of the time I was more listening than talking.  But I learned.”
  5. To Be A Great Leader You Must Put In The Intellectual Rigor Needed To Be Successful – Molina learned at a young age how to call a game but went a step further by memorizing the tendencies of each batter he would be facing.
  6. To Be A Great Leader You Must Make Others Better – Mozeliak says, “He’s absolutely selfless…The great ones make people around them better.”  Molina’s brother Bengie adds, “I just think it’s in our nature to help people, to help a pitcher become better.  I want you to pitch well so at the end of the year you get $6 million for your kids…When you give yourself up for others, you become one of us.”
  7. To Be A Great Leader You Must Calm The Fears Of Others – Pitcher Michael Wacha says, “Having that veteran behind the plate who knows all the hitters’ tendencies, it played a big part in it.  It makes us not worry too much, because we know he has complete control.”
  8. To Be A Great Leader You Must Put The Organization Ahead Of Your Personal Ambitions – In 2012, Molina signed a contract well-below his market value. Those resources would then be redirected to others so the quality of team could improve around him.  He said, “I feel good with the money I have, to be able to be here in St. Louis, where I knew I can spend my career.  To be around good people, to be on a good team, to have a chance to play in the playoffs – that was the main thing for me.”
  9. To Be A Great Leader You Must Make Physical Sacrifices – Mark McGwire remembered, “I think it was in Cincinnati, and he was hitting with two badly sprained ankles and a bad rib cage, too, and when he hit he would sort of fall out of the box.  That’s how bad this guy wants to play.”
  10. To Be A Great Leader You Must Be Humble – When asked about being the face of the franchise, Molina said, “The face?  No.  We got 25 guys who come to work, come ready to represent the St. Louis Cardinals.  It’s not only one guy.  I don’t like to think that way.”

Production, Hard Work, Starting Early, Listening, Intellectual Rigor, Making Others Better, Calming Fears, Putting The Organization First, Sacrifice, Humbleness.  If you are not willing to pay these 10 prices, you will never be a great leader.


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