CLP Beacon - Business Issues and Solutions

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Three Business Lessons From The Cardinal Way. Or how the St. Louis Cardinals Win Year After Year

The 2015 season may be over for the Cardinals but they have played in 12 of the past 16 post-seasons. So how does this small market organization generally outperform higher paid rivals from the big cities?  The Wall Street Journal wrote an informative article on the subject  (see, which boils down to – you guessed it – people!
First, players prefer to play for a winner. Employees feel the same way about the companies for which they work. They want to know that the business model is sound, strategy compelling, and the company is in control of its destiny. If 50% of your employees say they don’t either know or agree with the direction of your company you are in trouble. In great companies, 80% of employees are both aware of and agree with the company’s direction.
Second, players want to play for a team that has a caring culture. Yes, even huge ego athletes that earn millions of dollars per year want to know management and the fans care about them. A caring culture in St. Louis enables professional baseball players to perform better in a Cardinal uniform than any other. This actually helps the club compensate for a lack of payroll due to the small St. Louis market. They simply get more production for their payroll dollars than the competition. Of course, this makes sense for any business.
Third, Cardinal management are “eternal optimists.” The “Cardinal Way” includes a consistent approach to the game that is aggressive and disciplined. Management supports players for playing aggressively and rewards them whether the risk works out or not. This support helps the players feel safe in taking the risks which are required to win consistently. Giving employees the space to take risks and expecting the best is a good recipe for profitable business growth.
Playing to win, caring about employees and encouraging risk taking is nothing new. The Cardinal organization is just one of the few that does not just talk about it but does it. The results speak for themselves.   Do you agree with these lessons?  Let’s continue the dialog.
C-Level Partners was created to help companies experiencing market turmoil or who are moving through different phases in their lifecycle.  Contact me at to see how we can apply Business Lessons from the Cardinal Way to your business.

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