Bigger Than Baseball
Inspiring Generational Leadership
A Part of the Equity Bank Entrepreneurial & Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership
The Entrepreneurial & Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership, brought to you by Equity Bank and Richard Rierson, is all about sharing inspiring and educational interviews with today’s most relevant and motivational leaders. Rierson talks to leaders and influence experts who dedicate their lives to truth, common sense and courageous leadership.From watching the Kansas City Royals while growing up in South Central Kansas during the ‘70s and ‘80s, to coaching a college team, to becoming the General Manager of the Royals, baseball has always been a way of life for Dayton Moore.
In 2015, Dayton helped bring the Kansas City Royals their first World Championship in 30 years and his tenure has been one of the most successful runs in franchise history boasting 17 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, 28 All-Star Game selections, and a Cy Young Award winner.
Long before Dayton joined the Royals, he was already establishing himself as a leader.
He says, “I wanted to play as long as I could, of course and I was a college player. I actually went to Garden City Community College and then went on to George Mason University. Signed with an independent pro team, was released out of there and then I began my coaching career when I was, I believe, 24 years old.”
Dayton coached for George Mason University for four full seasons then became an Area Scouting Supervisor for the Atlanta Braves before moving forward to be the Assistant Director of Scouting in August of 1996. During this time, the Braves were very successful, won 14-straight division titles, and Dayton got to work with some extraordinary people.
“It was unbelievable being able to work alongside and learn from people like Paul Snyder, John Schuerholz, Bobby Cox, and Donny Williams and just so many really talented people - Bill Lajoie. It was just amazing, the mentors that I had during those years,” he says. “Of course, I also got a chance to watch a lot of very talented players like Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, Tom Lavin, and John Smoltz. It was a very talented group and I learned a lot.”
He received a piece of advice from John Schuerholz while working with the Braves. This advice has guided his career and today.
“John Schuerholz always told me, ‘Look, let the needs of the organization guide your path.’ And that's kind of how it's worked out for me along the way,” he says. “That's the message that I present to a lot of our young, aspiring employees. Don't get caught up in wanting someone else's job.”
Dayton joined the Royals in 2006, but he never planned on becoming the General Manager for the team.
“It wasn't anything I ever sought out to do. My father always told me, ‘Work every job you have like it's the last one you'll ever have, and do it like you're going to do it for the rest of your life.’ So, that's kind of the spirit in which we went to work each and every day,” he says. “I loved just being a part of baseball. There's so much to learn. It stimulates your mind every single day. No two days are the same when you're dealing with people and players in the game of baseball.”
Dayton knows that there are a lot of factors that play into success. Two of the most important to him are perseverance and discipline.
“Perseverance and discipline are so important,” he says. “You've got to have a plan in place, but you also have to be flexible in navigating through the plan and realize that information is presented at times that will challenge you to change the plan. But if you love it, you'll show up every single day and be able to give your best effort.”
So, how does Dayton help the employees, players, and coaches within the organization stay motivated to give their best effort?
“John Wooden said it, and it's something I use all the time, ‘I'd rather have a player who makes the team great, than a great player.’ I think that is so important when you're putting the teams together,” Dayton says. “But when you're trying to motivate people as a leader, the only way I've found to be able to do it, is to do your job with passion, discipline, love, excitement, and energy. And then always speak encouraging, positive words and tell the truth in a positive and encouraging way. I think those are the only things that I've found truly can get people through a day, get people through a moment.”
With high stress situations and a lot of different personalities on the payroll, how does someone in Dayton’s position maintain order and keep everyone on track?
“We have to understand that we shape culture and the way we're going to shape that culture is to lead ourselves well,” he says. “It is my intention to settle disputes quickly when they occur. Drama will creep into our front office. Drama will creep into our clubhouse. We will have issues, we will have debates. Sometimes it does get a little personal. But I'm going to be the one that is going to commit to settle those disputes quickly. I don't have to be right. I want harmony in the relationships and I'm going to go out of my way to make sure we have that harmony.”
Building close relationships is another very important part of Dayton’s leadership style and he strives to make one-on-one communication a priority.
“As leaders, oftentimes we have to stand up in front of a group and try to articulate our vision and inspire a group to row the boat in the same direction, but we all know it's very difficult to build a consensus,” he says. “So, we've got to make sure that we're intentional about one-on-one communication, spending that one-on-one time, whether it's early morning around the coffee pot or it's lunch or dinner or just a private meeting with just a couple individuals so they can understand your heart.”
The person who inspired him to use one-on-one meetings and conversations to connect? Arguably one of the most successful businessmen in the history of the country and then owner of the Kansas City Royals: David Dayne Glass.
“When I sat down one-on-one with him, he shared his heart with me. He shared his vision. And because he shared his heart and was extremely transparent and vulnerable and saying things like, ‘I'm very embarrassed about the play of our team. It's hurtful to me. I want to do something special for the fans.’ Well, that attracted me,” he says. “He got on a plane, the owner of the team who also had a very powerful and influential role with Walmart at the time. And he made it very important to share his heart with me. He did that, I became connected to him, and I wanted to learn more.”
In addition to putting an emphasis on meaningful communication, Dayton also finds it very important to focus on building effective character and leadership programs - another philosophy he has taken from his mentors.
“We spend a lot of time trying to develop our character and leadership programs. Mr. Glass always told me, ‘Look, Dayton, our character and leadership programs need to exceed industry standards. Because those character and leadership programs are going to benefit our players well beyond their careers.’ And so we've always taken that to heart. But that was the philosophy of John Schuerholz in Atlanta, as well. It's been very rewarding and natural to conduct ourselves that way, because all of my mentors demanded it.”
So, while baseball has always been a part of Dayton’s life, what he brings to the table is much bigger than that, and he hopes that his legacy teaches other aspiring leaders to put others first.
In 2013, Dayton helped start the “C” You In the Major Leagues Foundation to help provide hope and support to children and families by using youth baseball to develop future character-driven leaders. In 2014, he wrote his first book titled More Than a Season, with all of the proceeds going to "C" You In the Major Leagues.
In 2018, the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy officially opened its doors under the direction of Dayton to "utilize baseball and softball, fostering a culture for urban youth” and “eliminate social barriers while inspiring educational advancement, community awareness, and character development that creates a reciprocating lifestyle of excellence.”
“Leadership begins and ends with putting others first and doing everything you can to provide an opportunity for others,” he says. “If you don't understand that, if you think leadership is about you and exalting self, it's probably going to be a short-lived opportunity. That's what I think is so important in leadership — to provide an opportunity for people to reach their ceiling, provide for their families, and to be the very best that they can be. It's simple principles.”
To listen to Richard Rierson’s full podcast interview with Dayton Moore, click here.