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6 Leadership Traits Josh Donaldson (Toronto Blue Jays) Exhibits Each and Every Day

by John Zettler

September 11, 2015

I’m amazed it’s taken me this long to write about the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays. For what it’s worth, I’m one of those who can remember the last time it was exciting to be a Jays fan – 92′-93′; I’m not sure if that just makes me old or not.Josh Donaldson

As I’ve watched almost every game this year, yes I have a very forgiving and loving wife, I continue to be amazed at what Josh Donaldson does for this team. The interesting part is, he is not the loudest on the team, certainly not the most outspoken, but you ask anyone who the Leader on this team is and they’ll tell you it’s him. So why is he such a great Leader, and what can we all learn from him, read on!

1. Humility – This is the first thing that strikes me about Josh. If you’ve listened to any of his interviews pre/post game, and even within the game, what you’ll hear from him is how grateful he is for the opportunity to be a part of this great run, how much he enjoys the Toronto Blue Jays, how great the fans are, etc. Never do you hear him touting himself, it’s all about everyone else. He’s also the first person to Admit His Own Mistakes when he makes them.

2. Team before Individual – While baseball is definitely a team sport, there’s no doubt that it’s also very individual. Nobody can help you hit the ball, field the ball, throw the ball, that’s all on you. But you never hear Josh Donaldson talk about himself. He talks solely in terms of the team and he removes the spotlight from himself and talks about how everyone else contributed to the success of the game or season. His ability to give Praise and Honest Appreciation in the most authentic way, makes him different from the rest.

3. Work Ethic – He’s a Gamer – I just listened to David Price, one of the best pitchers in baseball, talk about Josh by saying “Everyone needs a Josh Donaldson on their team…he’s an energy giver and a difference maker”. He referred to his work ethic, intensity, and energy as a big part of what’s made a difference here in Toronto. What he didn’t talk about, but what I’ve noticed about Josh too, is how prepared he is for the game. He does the work prior to each game to know what the pitchers are likely to do with him and knowing what the opposing hitters are likely to do, he builds a game-plan based on the research he does, and then he comes out and executes on that game-plan – both at the plate and in the field. And he even does it in the middle of the game (nimble and agile); so, when they change pitchers he’s in the dugout looking at the charts and building a new game-plan.

4. Coach/Mentor – Dale Carnegie says to Use Encouragement regularly. If you watch Josh Donaldson, he’s always in the dugout helping his teammates – feeding back information about what the pitcher is doing, talking about what happened in the field, and he’s doing it in the moment. What’s remarkable about this is he’s earned the respect of other players who are also considered to be the best at what they do – Troy Tulowitski, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion – and they’re eager to listen to what he has to say.

5. Role Model – You only need to have watched Josh dive into the stands earlier this year to make a catch, score on a sacrifice fly to the second baseman last week, or field slow rollers bare-handed and throw a strike to the first baseman, to know that Josh lives everything I described above each and every day on the field. In your role, can you say that you “left it on the field” every day like Josh Donaldson does? If not, what’s possible if you showed up the way Josh does? Not only for you, but what residual impact could that have on the rest of your team?

6. High Emotional Intelligence – In a game where failure is the norm, even the best hitters strike out 7 out of 10 times, rarely do you see Josh Donaldson get emotional beyond control. And when you do see emotion, it’s generally the positive type that has a positive impact on his team. It’s real, authentic and people thrive off of it. When there’s negative emotions, his ability to manage them in the moment and move on to the next task at hand shows that how aware he is and how incredibly he self-manages.

I hope you find these 6 characteristics of great Leadership as inspiring as I do. I hope it makes you think about your Leadership style; where you are excelling, and where you could improve, as much as it has for me. At the end of the day, these are just some principles of a great Leader, so my challenge to you today is to figure out which of these principles are most important to you and what actions are you going to commit to taking to #RAISEYOURGAME?

Until next time – GO JAYS GO !

Best Success!

John Zettler, Director, Talent Strategy
& Development, Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-826-7300 x 235 or jzettler@dalecarnegie.ca





We are pleased to welcome John Zettler to the Dale Carnegie team as Director, Talent Strategy & Development.“John’s commitment and passion to the growth and development of individuals, teams and organizations is evident,” says Kevin Crone, President and Managing Partner, Dale Carnegie Business Group. “His engaging and collaborative approach along with his strong business acumen and focus on results make him a great fit for our team. We are thrilled he has decided to join us.”

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John Zettler brings almost 20 years of human resource experience to the challenge of better leadership we all share. He has invested his skills and energies and debated leadership with some of our country’s best leaders. Through this, he has refined a style of management that focuses on leadership conviction, authenticity and caring as the cornerstones of a more nuanced set of management skills we can all benefit from.

Instead of balance in our life, he challenges us to a new style of work life blending that both gives us:

  1. The rush of seeing our people grow and prosper in a company that truly cares about them and their dreams.
  2. The time and focus to also contribute the same level of passion to the needs of our families.

To hear the insights we captured in three minutes of his own words, click here.






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