It finally happened Wednesday night. The lovable losers, The Chicago Cubs, raised the World Series trophy as champions. In doing so, they erased 108 years of frustration. As the world watched (and celebrated) with them, I couldn’t stop thinking how much of their story mirrors situations often faced by today’s talent leaders.
A new leader rarely walks into a good situation.
We all hope to land our dream job, but the reality is there’s usually a caveat. Finally landed a role with your dream company, but had to take a step down in title? You finally made that coveted Manager/Director/VP of Talent Acquisition role, but did so joining a company in distress? These are common scenarios recruiting leaders face.
When the Cubs hired President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, he was tasked with not only winning with one of the most recognized and storied sports franchises in the world, but to deliver a championship. The latter request had not happened in over 100 years, and was the longest such drought in Major League Baseball.
Have a plan and don’t be afraid to run towards the fire.
A mentor and friend of mine walked into a global leadership role with a large publicly traded tech company earlier this year. Though this was an amazing opportunity, during the interview process the executives stressed their frustrations and issue. My friend calmly problem-solved what her 30-60-90 would be during her interview, and was hired. She had a huge task ahead of her and embraced it.
The Cubs had another losing season when their new president took over in 2011, and he made it very clear in his first press conference that building a winner wasn’t enough. He detailed that he would be building a team that would win, be playing in October (make the playoffs) and win the World Series. Just like that, he laid out an action plan and goals for his employees to follow. As a new talent leader, there is no more important time period than your first 90 days.
Don’t be afraid to make appropriate changes.
The same friend above took over a recruiting team that had been doing well—good not great, but were not anywhere close to where they could be. After evaluating the existing personnel, she made the tough decision to lay off 30% of the recruiting team. She did an amazing job sharing why she’d made the decision and met 1:1 with the remaining members of her team, not only reinforcing the importance of their current role, but where they fit towards her vision of the future of the team.
As president of the Cubs, Theo Epstein made several changes—some popular and some very unpopular, as he worked to build the Cubs to a team he felt could not only compete but win the World Series. In today’s age of social media, he was constantly bombarded with naysayers and doubters; but he stayed the course to follow his plan. Wednesday night, as he held the World Series trophy high, he proved that every championship starts with talent acquisition.