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What Can Business Leaders Learn from Derek Jeter “The Captain” New York Yankees?

What can business leaders learn from Derek Jeter “The Captain” of the New York Yankees ?

Derek Jeter, the shortstop for the New York Yankees, will play the last games of his 20-year career this weekend. By way of background, Mr. Jeter is the son of two Army veterans, he avoided the urge to use steroids to improve his game performance when some Derek Jeterof his teammates and competitors used performance-enhancing drugs to get bigger, stronger and faster. Mr. Jeter is also one of the true stars in baseball history to never be thrown out of a game by the umpire (2.902 games total). Given the success Derek Jeter has had for such an extended time, I thought he would have some interesting insights to offer on leadership. You see, as an Executive Business Coach and Strategic Business Consultant, I study high performing individuals and teams.

To begin, let me disclose three things.

First, I grew up in Los Angeles, a LA Dodger fan, so some of my LA brethren will be upset that I did not find someone else (anyone else) to showcase in a blog.

Second, I lived in NYC for over 25 years and was blessed with many opportunities to go to Yankee Stadium . My son became a huge fan and that “forced” me to appreciate greatness as the Yankees and Jeter won 5 World Series Championships. In fact, my son and I were standing and cheering along the third base line in 1999 when the Yankees completed the 4-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves to clinch their 25 World Series title in history.

Third, In my research for this blog, I discovered that in Fortune Magazine‘s 2014 ranking of The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, Derek Jeter was #11 ahead of many CEO’s and Presidents. So clearly great minds think alike!

Jeter wrote a book called The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams. Within the book he offers up 10 specific lessons on leadership. I have chosen to focus on 3 that truly match up with my philosophy for business leaders. They are as follows:


  • Set Your Goals High: I am continually challenging clients to think bigger. My standard advice when I give a speech is to ask the audience to first visualize their primary goal. Then, when they have the clear vision of the goal in their mind I ask them to triple it! We live in a world where things are changing so rapidly and people’s attention span is so short that being bold and then figuring out how to meet that bold promise often is the winning strategy.
  • Have a Strong Supporting Cast: No one can succeed alone. Whatever your vision, plans, goals or dreams are you better put in a support cast of competent team members. Your true success in most cases is determined by how strong your weakest link is, not your strongest link.
  • Don’t be Afraid to Fail: This for most people is the most challenging piece of advice as many people are very conditioned to “try” something versus commit to it. Derek Jeter is likely a first ballot entrant into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his major league career he failed to hit the ball 69% of the time, yet he found greatness.

So with just a few days left in his career, I invite you to stop and take note of an accomplished leader and reflect on what you might do better to improve your leadership capabilities.

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