Leadership Traits of Billy Beane as Depicted in Moneyball
The movie Moneyball, which is based on real life events, depicts a variety of leadership styles through its main character, Billy Beane. He is the general manager of the underperforming Oakland Athletics baseball team and displays a variety of leadership traits to be able to revive the failing team. The various leadership styles he employed during his time as a general manager greatly contributed to his success and that of the team. They also contributed to his implementation of the revolutionary changes he brought to the baseball industry. In addition, there are recommendations for modern managers, who through employment of the leadership traits depicted by Billy Beane, can also bring change to their respective organizations. These leadership styles are evaluated and their impact they cause is analyzed in the following essay. It is also demonstrated how the practical application of these leadership traits are utilized by Billy Beane to bring changes to the baseball industry.
One of the traits that enable Billy to be successful in the introduction of change to the baseball industry is his ability of taking necessary risk. Billy recognized that his budget allocation was meager compared with that of the other clubs in the league. Billy Beane realizes that ‘doing things as they have always been done stifles progress’ (Stewart, 2009) and decides to employ a system based on statistics that had never been tried before. His ability to take on this risk and do the necessary to make it succeed is an important characteristic that contributed to the change he brought to baseball industry. Though there were challenges along the way, including criticism and the unresponsive scouting team, it eventually proved to be a success.
Billy Beane also portrays visionary leadership in the movie Moneyball, which was essential for his successful revolution of the baseball industry. It is stated that one of the core characteristics of a good leader is the ability of defining a clear vision (Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1991). Billy displays vision by recognizing the need for a new and more effective model of player recruitment in order to be able to remain competitive. Billy works towards his vision by first creating a structure that enables his vision to be realized. This is implemented by the employment of economist Peter Brand as the assistant general manager. Peter was essential in the implementation of the statistics-based method of player selection and recruitment. Communication of the vision to the staff and motivating them towards its achievement is also essential. Since this was a completely new method not employed before, he needed to ensure that everyone was moving towards the same objective. Where someone tried to impede the achievement of his vision, Billy did what was necessary to make his vision a success. An example of this is the trading of Pena so that Art Howe, the coach, would have to play Hatteberg at first base.
Knowledge of the industry was important in Billy introducing and effecting changes in the baseball. Billy was a former player himself and this may have contributed to his intimate knowledge of the industry. Billy was able to recognize the presence of undervalued players and when he became aware of a method of identifying them, was able to take advantage of the situation. He also recognized the increasing role of financial ability in baseball. This included the knowledge that other clubs had greater financial muscle that his team and therefore needed to come up with an innovative strategy to remain competitive. The model he chose took advantage of his knowledge of undervalued players and eventually proved to be a success.
Adaptive or intelligent leadership involves the scanning of the environment for disturbances and choosing a behavioral response (Girczyc, 2008). This is one of the factors that led to the success of Billy Beane’s new model of player recruitment. Billy found himself in a situation where finances were not sufficient yet results were still expected of him. He therefore had to adapt to the situation, leading him to implement his statistically driven model to guide player recruitment and selection. Billy also demonstrated his adaptive leadership by having to create relationships with the players, which he never did previously. In order to make the players understand his vision for them, it was necessary for him to depart from his previous methods of avoiding players and begin communicating with them. This was an important contribution to the successful implementation of his model.
In conclusion, it can be seen that the various leadership traits of Billy Beane and their practical implementation played an important role in the contribution he made to the baseball industry. These traits have been discussed in detail and it has been demonstrated how they contributed to the methods he implemented and how he implemented these methods. It is therefore recommended for modern leaders to adapt these traits and implement them accordingly in their organizations, especially where rapid and revolutionary change is required, as was the case for the Oakland Athletics baseball team.
Girczyc, P. A. (2008). Toward a Theory of Intelligent Leadership as Adaptive Action. ProQuest.
Kirkpatick, S. A., & Locke, E. A. (1991). Leadership: do traits matter?. The executive, 5(2), 48-60.
Stewart, B. (2009). Leadership Under Pressure: Tactics from the Front Line. Kogan Page Publishers.