Why Did the Royals Win the World Series, and Why Does It Matter?

royalsThe Royals are atypical champions. They have no pitching ace, no huge power hitter, and no superstar. Two years ago, they were bottom dwellers. How did they become world champions?

They built on the right foundation. (Character)

Everybody has values and those values determine what you do, and how you react to what comes your way in life. The same is true of organizations.

The Royals have a GM, Dayton Moore, who built a team upon values that were both virtuous, and led to success.

  • Strong moral principles and devotion to family
  • Commitment to excellence and reaching your potential
  • A humble desire to learn, listen, and forgive
  • Refusal to give up

That all stands in contrast to the immature, narcissistic, trash talking, chest thumping, bragging, and whining that pervades professional sports. It also produced winners.

They had the right people in charge. (Management)

Dayton Moore, knew how to build a team from the draft. Ned Yost knew how to develop them into champions, and he is a fascinating story. He was such a poor hitter in high school that he worked as a pot scrubber at KFC to build his physical strength. Against all odds, he made it to the majors, but wasn’t very good.

However, as a manager, he turned two struggling, small market teams, the Brewers and the Royals into true contenders. But controversy seems to follow him because of his unconventional, highly personal style that is part knowledge of his roster and part confidence in believing they will develop into the players the team needs.

That’s a contrast to the stat-based world of sports in which reaction (or overreaction) is the norm.

They functioned as a team. (Unselfishness)

The Royals focused on the less celebrated elements of the game, like putting the ball in play, a solid defense, base running, and relief pitching. When all of those small pieces were put together in the team, they were more potent and complete than a team with a couple of superstars.

There are a lot of superstars trying to make a name for themselves, but the real heroes are those who do their part to achieve something great together. I cannot think of a venture that does not require a great team to pull it off.

They didn’t give up. (Perseverance)

This team’s hallmark is winning close games and coming from behind. That’s why we’re up so late for those extra innings games. You cannot count these guys out. They don’t get rattled. They always believe they can win.

How often have you seen a team’s confidence shaken, their spirit broken, and then, the downward spiral? That way of thinking doesn’t’t seem to be a part of the Royals DNA.


I am not much of a baseball fan, but when the Royals make it to post-season, I watch, and they make it interesting.

Really, any sport is just about a game. Or, is it? A game, a team, has the power to unite millions of people, bring family and friends together, give them something to cheer about, provide a needed distraction, and give us a source of identity and pride. A game and team can somehow bring hope to people fighting cancer, or those suffering from a broken heart. And it is just another context to tell a great story.

But it is even more. The reasons the Royals won the World Series was not just about physics or skill. Their victory was based on lessons that all of us can take to our businesses and our lives.


About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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