While you might think of baseball and business as two entirely different arenas, the fact is that Major League Baseball is very much a form of Big Business. And by the same token, I think “the art of business” could now borrow a leaf from baseball in the form of a brand new honor – the “Jeter.”
As I envision it, the Jeter would be awarded to the retiring entrepreneur or executive who has commanded the most respect in the course of his or her career – not only from peers, but from competitors as well. Its inspiration, of course, would be Derek Jeter, the beloved New York Yankee captain whose many tributes upon bowing out included a both a remarkable display of esteem by the arch-rival Boston Red Sox and a “rousing ovation” from the fans at Fenway Park.
But then, here was a guy who was known for having real class – a quality particularly valued in an arena where far too many icons these days have fallen from grace in one way or another. And that’s something where one can find parallels in the world of contemporary commerce as well.
Among today’s “captains of industry” (not unlike a century ago), there are those whose methods of getting ahead include any means, whether legal or otherwise, of gaming the system, sabotaging competitors, exploiting underlings and otherwise undercutting members of their own team. And then there are those with a reputation for always “playing by the rules,” doing the right thing, treating everyone with courtesy, respect and fairness, and using their talents not only to improve their own enterprises, but to build a better society.
The “Jeter” would go to the individual most revered for those qualities – the one who, beyond making a “graceful exit,” is genuinely revered for the graciousness and humility displayed during his or her entire career.
Might you have any candidates in mind for the first “Jeter” who are now on the verge of signing off on whatever it is they’ve spent their career creating? Maybe even someone at a rival enterprise? If so, I’d appreciate your apprising me of who they are – and why you think they deserve the same kind of claim accorded to Derek.