In a world of critics, he is both praised and criticized on the way his runs his ball club; he revolves his personal decisions around leadership and what he feels is best for the team both in baseball and with his own personal businesses.
Drayton McLane, owner of the Houston Astros and McLane Group, spoke yesterday in the Killinger Auditorium in the Beto Criminal Justice Center for the Spring 2006 Presidential Speaker Series.
Approximately 400 people including students, staff, distinguish alumni and community members were in attendance to hear McLane speak.
Sam Houston State University President James Gaertner first introduced McLane and included reasons why he fit the President’s Speaker Series criteria.
“The Presidential Series was established to bring prominent leaders to campus for the benefit of our students and our community; our students, and all of us for that matter, can learn and grow from observing these honored guests for living successful and principle lives,” said Gaertner.
McLane first opened up his lecture briefing the audience about the different topics he was going to discuss in his hour-long speech including different experiences he has had throughout his career and would even asked the audience for some “free advice” concerning the Houston Astros later on.
The main concentration, however, of the lecture was focused on leadership, which McLane said was the most fascinating subject in the world to him.
“The subject today is leadership. I think it is fascinating; it’s people living their lives to come to this university with great hopes,” said McLane. “The fascinating thing about leadership is that about 10 percent of the people make a huge, huge difference in life. Think through history, think about Sam Houston, his impact on Texas, this university and what it shaped the democracy in Texas.”
McLane told the audience about his personal perspective on leadership including different lessons that he has learned in his own career and what qualities and principles he feels makes a good leader including creativity, having a focus, never giving up and have personal integrity.
“A real leader inspires other people to do things they wouldn’t have thought of. As we think of our role as a leader, our role not only is to have big ideas ourselves, but to sell these ideas, to sell courage, to sell determination, to be someone,” he said
Throughout his speech, he gave examples from his own personal experiences from running a successful business and ball club that have helped shape the leader he feels he has become today.
LEADERSHIP on page 3
“We were born as human beings to succeed and we need to get that positive attitude constantly in our lives that we can be successful. There will be difficulties, turmoil, confusion, but you can win, you can overcome, we’re born to win,” he said.
McLane also stressed the importance of failing and how one must overcome it in order to be a winner.
“You fail more than you succeed. We’re born to win but we take on tasks that are overwhelming at times. The hardest thing for these ball players is that they fail and when they fail, they fail in front of 40 thousand people and maybe two million watching on TV.”
He concluded his lecture, before taking questions from the crowd, reiterating the importance of leadership.
“Our roles as leader is to encourage others and to help bring the best out of others and to help them bridge the gaps of when they do fail,” he said.
After the speech, he sat down to answer more questions about the Astros.
When asked how he handled the constant criticism from fans who say that he is not spending enough money on the team, he said, “When you bought the team, they praised you. Once you started and didn’t have the players they thought or you weren’t winning, you get criticism and so it takes some getting used to. We have a partnership with the public; we bought the team but we share it with the public. People are passionate about sports teams, they care about them, they want them to improve, they want them to win. You’re going to get all sorts of advice, everyday I get 25-50 letters and a few praises but the majority have ideas that they want to express so that’s part of the responsibility.”
A question was also posed about the ongoing steroids controversy and how it has affected the Astros.
He said, “We talk to [the players] constantly about it, but we can’t design any programs, Major League Baseball has an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association so anything we do with an individual player pertaining to any rules and regulations we have to work through Major League Baseball who then has to work through the players agreement.
Another topic of discussion that is on the minds of many Astros alike is that of Jeff Bagwell. He compared Bagwell’s insurance policy to that of an insurance policy that one has on their home incase something bad happens like a fire or flood.
“The majority of the players we don’t insure but when players make more than 10 million a year and they can get some kind of injury occurred playing or just in life, that makes them unable to play, so we took out an insurance policy on Jeff Bagwell,” he said.
However, he does see a possible future for Bagwell somewhere within the organization if his professional career is over.
“We would like for him to get involved in broadcasting. You know we have the radio broadcasts. We have TV broadcasts. We have other areas that he can be very involved in. One of the most interesting parts of Major League Baseball is the player development program. We have 152 players in six minor league teams and Jeff because of his accomplishments would be very good do that, so we certainly hope when his career is over that he will be engaged.”
Running a successful business and club is not easy, but for McLane, he believes is all goes back to leadership.
“That’s part of leadership. You get more experienced as you go forward; you learn to manage more events. I have a little over 20 different companies around the world that I am responsible for, that we have ownership of, and then we’re involved in baseball, and then I try to spend about a third of my time in charitable responsibilities. I also have a family, so you have to work your way through that,” he said.
Still a bitter-sweet memory for McLane, he expressed his happiness with the Astros and their National League title and his excitement for the fans.
“The best part was not for me but was for the fans of Houston. That was 43 years of Major League Baseball and many of them have grown up in their 60’s and 70’s and had never seen a championship and a World Series and they got to experience that. That was the best part.”
Though his team was the National League Champions, he still is “daring to dream” to see the Astros win the World Series.
“The Houston Astros have been a Major League team for 43 years. They, until last year, had never been to a World Series but they have not won a World Series. In the 14 years that I have owned the team, in my mind, everyday I picture Commissioner Bud Selig handing the Houston Astros the World Series trophy.”