Business Articles - George Steinbrenner - Anything but Indecisive

by MICHAEL MCGRATH - Date: 2010-07-21 - Word Count: 443 Share This!

As a life-long Red Sox fan, it's difficult for me to admit that I admired George Steinbrenner, but I did. While many saw him as meddling, I have to give him credit for stepping in and making decisions - good or bad. In many ways he was the paramount example of a decisive executive - maybe to the extreme, but still a great example. When he arrived in New York on Jan. 3, 1973, he said he would not "be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all." Having made his money as head of the American Shipbuilding Company, based in Cleveland, he declared, "I'll stick to building ships." That didn't last very long. He made virtually every decision for the New York Yankees.

When he was not phoning his general managers and managers with complaints or advice, he meddled in the smallest matters of ballpark maintenance. Mr. Steinbrenner changed managers and general managers with abandon. As the owner of the Yankees, 22 managers have come and gone, many (such as Billy Martin) more than once. Lou Piniella once called him "a great guy, unless you have to work for him."

George Steinbrenner was well aware of his management style. "Some guys can lead through real, genuine respect," he told Cleveland magazine. "But I'm not that kind of a leader." He likened himself to George Patton: "He was a gruff son of a bitch and he led through fear. I hope I don't lead through fear, and I would hope it was more love and respect, but maybe it isn't." He made all of the decisions and everyone knew it, including George.

He even promoted this "I make the decisions" persona as a recurring character on "Seinfeld". Steinbrenner, the character, had a penchant for making poor decisions, including trading Yankee players unfavorably, cooking jerseys, scalping box tickets, and cancelling an important meeting because he couldn't get his beloved eggplant calzone (naturally, this was George's fault).

For more than 30 years, Steinbrenner lived up to his billing as "the Boss," a nickname he earned and clearly enjoyed as he ruled with an iron fist. I write about decisive and indecisive executives in my latest book Business Decisions!. He was decisive - good or bad - and I admired him for that.

---------------------------------- Michael E. McGrath is the creator of the popular Decide Better! decision-making series and bestselling author of Product Strategy for High Tech Companies. His recent book Business Decisions! published in 2009, has been nominated for numerous awards and also won a Bronze Award with ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year. He has appeared on ABC, CNN, CNBC, and FOX Business Network for his expertise.

Related Tags: business management, business decisions, decide better!

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