Home Thinking Aloud Leading To Win: Navigating Old-School vs. New-School Business Leadership

Leading To Win: Navigating Old-School vs. New-School Business Leadership


by Rex Kurzius, Founder and CEO of Asset Panda

As a lifelong Texas Rangers fan, the team’s recent triumph in clinching their first-ever World Series championship resonated deeply with me. For 63 years, the Rangers grappled with the elusive title, overcoming a recent setback of over 100 losses just two years ago.

This turnaround prompts a crucial question: How did a struggling team transform into a championship-caliber force? The answer lies in a fundamental shift in leadership perspective.

The game of baseball has changed tremendously over the years, and until this season, the Rangers hadn’t quite figured out how to capitalize on all the new opportunities in front of them properly. In 2023, forward-thinking leadership made all the difference.

Witnessing the transformative power of effective leadership within the Rangers organization drew my attention to the striking parallels between baseball and business. This revelation sparked an exploration into the evolution from old-school to new-school leadership methods, focusing on four key principles I’ve found as a business leader to be crucial for driving team success in a modern landscape.

1. People Are Your Most Important Asset.

For years, baseball’s written and unwritten rules were not broken under any circumstances. However, recent years have witnessed a seismic shift in the sport’s dynamics, with new rules designed to make the game more exciting and allowing players to express their individuality in unprecedented ways. This transformation in baseball mirrors a broader trend seen in the business world, where traditional organizational structures that heavily emphasize hierarchy and authority are being turned on their heads.

The modern approach, whether in baseball or business, recognizes that the people on your team are not merely cogs in a machine but are the lifeblood of any organization. Each individual is seen as a crucial piece of a puzzle, contributing uniquely to the larger picture of success. The emphasis is on creating a collaborative and inclusive environment that values and appreciates every team member for their individual strengths. This approach has been proven to lead to higher levels of team productivity, a winning attitude, and overall organizational success.

2. Flexibility Is Your Friend.

In both sports and business, the psychological well-being of individuals is paramount. As the legendary athlete, coach, and businessman Deion Sanders put it, “If you feel good, you play good.” The nature of baseball, with its long season filled with slumps and hot streaks, draws parallels to employees’ daily challenges. Whether you’re a star athlete or an office intern, feeling comfortable without having to justify your work style in your environment is vital.

Modern leadership prioritizes the team’s goal of winning over sticking strictly to a 9-5 workday. The traditional emphasis on physical office presence has evolved into a technology-driven, flexible work model, attracting global talent and enhancing work-life balance.

The advantages of flexible and virtual work are evident in today’s globalized economy. It reduces expenses, increases well-being, and gives more time for personal growth. The positive impact of this shift extends to our team members, allowing them to allocate time and resources for personal benefits, such as exercise, family time, and the comfort of personalized workspaces. This aligns with the philosophy that when individuals “feel good, they play good,” which creates a positive productivity and satisfaction feedback loop.

In both business and baseball, successful teams understand that individuals’ well-being, job satisfaction, and personal growth contribute immeasurably to overall success and productivity.

3. Master Your Metrics.

Today, in sports and business, cutting-edge analytics are everything. Baseball has about a million different metrics to measure success. The old-school style cared about stats like batting average that showed success in a vacuum rather than stats that showed a more extensive picture like on-base percentage, wins above replacement, spin rate for pitchers, etc.

For instance, a player with a .280 batting average but only a .290 on-base percentage may struggle to contribute effectively to the team’s success. On the other hand, a batter hitting .240 with an on-base percentage of .350 finds multiple ways to positively impact the team. Translating this principle to business, comprehensive analytics allow for real-time decision-making that significantly influences team building and critical decisions.

While traditional methods like in-person meetings still hold value, analytics tools that provide a complete and nuanced picture of performance help streamline operations and make them more efficient. This balanced approach ensures that decisions are data-driven, contributing to a competitive advantage in the ever-evolving landscape.

4. Culture Is King.

Strong cultures, like those in successful baseball teams, possess an infectious quality. A culture with a clearly defined and communicated goal of winning matched with individual empowerment creates a DNA that shapes an organization’s identity and sets the tone for how work is done.

Unlike the traditional top-down approach to culture, modern leaders understand the value of co-creating culture with their teams. Teams led by players and organizations led by employees inspire genuine buy-in. This approach rejects the “my-way-or-the-highway” mentality, instead encouraging innovative ideas to help exceed established expectations.

The most successful coaches and leaders recognize the strengths of their teams while actively working to address weaknesses. Providing creative freedom to experiment with new strategies and incorporating team members into decision-making processes fosters a culture of innovation and adaptability. By tapping into diverse perspectives, leaders ensure that the organizational culture aligns seamlessly with business goals, creating a shared vision of success.

The Texas Rangers’ triumph shows that a shift in approaches to team leadership parallels those of successful business leaders. By leaning into modern-day approaches, we can find a blueprint that can guide businesses toward sustained success.

I encourage you to reflect on your own leadership style. Consider how you can leverage technology, empower your team, and foster a culture of collaboration and innovation. Embracing these shifts will not only help build a championship-caliber team but also position you as a leader who’s ready to win the championship in the ever-changing business landscape. The Rangers’ triumph is more than a baseball victory—it’s a lesson in rewriting the playbook for leadership excellence.


rex kurzius

Rex Kurzius is the Founder & CEO of Asset Panda. Rex is an award-winning asset management and tracking subject matter expert, entrepreneur and sought-after speaker.  Rex is a visionary who draws on experience and insight from the experts he surrounds himself with to push the boundaries of how a company should operate. His sights are set on helping the world’s organizations efficiently manage their assets.