Kansas City,
08:40 AM

Royals GM Dayton Moore shares leadership lessons at Children's Mercy

Dayton Moore was part of a winning organization long before he transformed the Kansas City Royals from perennial losers to the World Champions of Major League Baseball.

Dayton, who spoke at Children’s Mercy on Dec. 16, came to the Royals in 2006 after he helped build the Atlanta Braves dynasty that racked up 14 straight division titles and a World Series championship. Throughout his career, he said, there has been one common ingredient of every winning team: selflessness.

“What I’ve learned in every successful environment that I’ve been a part of is that you have to have a group of people who are selfless,” Dayton said. “People who have the ability to put their own needs, wants and desires second, and the needs, wants and desires of everyone else first.”

Children’s Mercy invited Dayton to share his thoughts on leadership, character, building a championship team and selecting, coaching and developing talent…all principles that are essential to any organization.

“We all know leadership shapes your culture,” Dayton said. “Without good leaders, you can forget it.”

Leadership, he said, contains three key components:

  • Moral principles: “There’s nobody I know whose personal life isn’t linked to their professional life. You have to be completely focused, completely determined, and have to eliminate all distractions.”
  • A desire for continuous learning: “We don’t have time for individuals who are closed-minded, who aren’t going to listen to other people’s opinions,” Dayton said. “There are a lot of good ideas and a lot of smart people, and you have to be open to both.”
  • A passion to win: Your leaders have to be the most passionate,” Dayton said. “They have to be the ones who believe most deeply, because there are always challenges.”

Dayton also said he challenges himself in the following areas:

  • Settle disputes quickly, especially within the leadership team: “I want harmony within the organization,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we agree all the time…confrontation is a good thing…but we learn to debate well, and it’s got to be respectful.”
  • Remain calm in the eye of the storm: “When things start getting tense, leaders have to be ones to take a deep breath and stay calm.”
  • Stand up for your people: “I’ve had a lot of people stand up for me,” Dayton said.
  • Share the glory when you have success: “Any measure of success I’ve ever had is because I’ve had great people around me, and all of our success is tied together.”
  • Create an atmosphere where people feel free to speak: “You will lose the privilege to lead if you don’t include others and seek their opinions,” Dayton said. “And in a lot of cases, you don’t get a second chance.”

"I want every mom and dad to want their son to play for the Kansas City Royals," Dayton Moore told the CM audience. "I wouldn't employ anyone in leadership levels that I wouldn't want my own son to be around."

Dayton also fielded questions from the audience, one of whom asked if he prefers to fill leadership positions by promoting from within or hiring from outside.

“We always look internally first,” Dayton responded. “We always want to grow our own people. We feel like they understand our culture, who we are, what we’re trying to do. Plus, you want to reward people for being loyal and consistent.”

As a highly visible leader whose every move is closely scrutinized and sometimes criticized by the media and others in the public, Dayton said he has learned another key to success: forgiveness.

“I have to forgive every day, because somebody often is saying or writing something about me with a very critical spirit. When I find myself feeling burned out, I go back to that forgiveness piece. If there’s something in my life that’s making me bitter, frustrating me, or driving me crazy, I forgive. My faith plays a big part in that, and I don’t know if I could have that forgiveness without my faith.”

Dayton, who is from Wichita and grew up rooting for the Royals, said leadership is closely tied to his aspirations for the Royals.

“I wouldn’t employ anyone in leadership levels that I wouldn’t want my own son to be around,” he said.