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What A Classic Baseball Movie Can Teach Us About Talent Development

Talent development in baseball parallels talent development at work. Whether on the field or in the office, honing skills is the ultimate game-changer.


One of the most prominent symbols of spring has arrived: Baseball. Each year, I find myself looking forward to this proverbial passage that says, winter is over, and sunnier days are ahead.

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the game, it’s hard to deny that the sport itself is full of metaphors and lessons that we can apply to areas of business, particularly talent development in our organizations. One classic baseball movie provides one of the best illustrations of it, Bull Durham, which centers around a Minor League Baseball “farm” team, and the dynamics between key characters—the catcher, the pitcher, and the coach.  Many team players are playing for little money, but they play with grit and heart because they all want to make it to “The Show” (the Major Leagues).

The coach’s role in the minor leagues is fundamental to prepare talent for the major leagues: to tame their egos, hone their skills, and immerse them in the processes involved in a professional team.

talent development like coach in Bull Durham


4 Reasons to Create a Talent Development Program at Your Business

In business, we, too, need to develop our talent. According to a 2024 report, a Gallop global survey found that companies are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable when they offer training to engaged employees. In addition, according to Forbes, company training programs yield 218% higher income per employee than those without formalized training.

If you do not have a “coach” and talent development program in place now, here are four reasons why you should consider it:

  1. New talent should understand the values and guiding principles of your company. On their first day, new talent should hear from their leaders what the company stands for and values—whether they are in the office or working remotely. This provides the foundation for their future years with the firm.
  2. Skills should be developed to align with the company’s needs. New talent brings some level of skill and knowledge from their past experiences— be it college, technical school, or previous work experience. Taking the time to ensure that the skill is applied the way you need it minimizes errors and prevents bad habits from forming. It maximizes their productivity more quickly.
  3. To foster their experience development through mistakes. Yes, mistakes.  Part of what a farm team coach does is put the talent into situations of struggle and potential failure to see how the person reacts and responds to it. It also is for them to learn how to recognize and respond to the situation in the future.  Try this as well through small projects or assignments—it reduces errors, enables issues to be addressed on the spot, and allows your younger talent to gain experience quickly in a “safe” environment.
  4. Younger workers seek personal development.  Your younger workers want to be developed—they actually seek companies that provide it. It will benefit your organization, too. Research shows that employee training reduces turnover and absenteeism. This approach increases your retention of young talent, saving in hiring costs and knowledge transfer impacts.

Developing talent is key to your company’s future.  Invest in it.  Otherwise, you may miss developing that next big-league All-Star.

To help develop your team and empower them to more effectively assess situations, watch my new PowerPlay, 3D Decision-Making Questions.


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