The Significance of Leaders: A management lesson from the New York Yankees and team sports| Insights from

Joe Torre’s Ground Rules for Winners: 12 Keys to Managing Team Players, Tough Bosses, Setbacks, and Success

by Joe Torre, Henry Dreher

The Significance of Leaders: A management lesson from team sports


Leadership makes a huge difference in almost every facet of life.  This is not meant to be a story about baseball or the Yankees (I grew up in New England, so we know where my loyalties are) but there are parallels between many business and sports activities, especially in those areas that require coordinated team efforts.


Joe Torre managed the New York Yankees from 1996 to 2007.

  • The Yankees reached the post season each year he managed and won ten American League East Division titles, six American League pennants, four World Series titles, and compiled a .605 winning percentage overall.
  • With 2,326 wins, he is currently the 5th winningest manager in Major League Baseball History.
  • Torre served as the Yankees manager under owner George Steinbrenner, who was famous for frequently firing his team’s managers.
  • Torre lasted 12 full seasons, managing 1,942 regular season games (with a won-loss record of 1173–767). This was by far the longest tenure for a Yankees skipper in the Steinbrenner era.
  •  Torre’s was the second-longest managerial tenure in the club’s history: only Joe McCarthy lasted longer.


Over the same approximate time period as Torre managed the Yankees, the LA Dodgers did not win a single playoff series. In 2008, Torre left New York to coach the Dodgers.


Interesting to note the results: The Dodgers won their first post-season series in 20 years, while the Yankees missed the playoffs altogether.

Similar team members, but the change in leadership made the difference.


This is an easy-to-read book that draws on Torre’s experience in dealing with challenging situations in both management and players. In his years as the manager of the New York Yankees, Torre addresses dealing with difficult but talented players and how he worked to motivate them to focus more on TEAM than on personal records. One can imagine how hard it might have been to deal with owner George Steinbrenner, but Torre shows some insights to the owner’s goals and motivations in aiming to be the best.

Trust, optimism, commitment and communication are several of what Torre calls his 12 Keys to Managing.

A review of the 12 keys are worth the read.

As always, comments are always welcome.
John Hogan
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Joe Torre managed the New York Yankees from 1996 to 2007.


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