BUSINESS SECRETS OF TOMMY LASORDA The Dodgers' ever upbeat manager tells how he gets his players to win and how executives can do the same with theirs. The advice may sound corny, but it works -- and that is without a doubt.
By Brian Dumaine Tommy Lasorda

(FORTUNE Magazine) – HE HAS BEEN CALLED the Lee Iacocca of baseball, the master motivator, the prince of positive thinking. He's Tommy Lasorda, manager of the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers and 1988 National League manager of the year, an honor he has won twice before. This hyperenergized 61-year-old, whose morale-boosting banter makes Dale Carnegie sound like Franz Kafka, has spent 40 years as a player, scout, coach, and manager in the Dodger organization. Over the past 12 seasons Lasorda has led the Dodgers to four National League pennants and two World Series championships. A few weeks ago, while in St. Louis to play the Cardinals, Lasorda chatted with Fortune associate editor Brian Dumaine about the keys to leadership. Here's the world according to Tommy:

Can executives learn from your management style? My job is no different from any manager's in a corporation. We all want to be No. 1. We all want to be successful. We all want to make money.

What's the secret? I can remember when I was 15 years old. I was sitting at home in the kitchen and my mother had a can of Carnation milk. I'll never forget this. A little can sitting on the table, and I picked it up, and why I ever read what was on that can I'll never know. It had a slogan on it, and it says contented cows give better milk. And I believe that contented people give better performances.

How do you get contented people? I want my players to know that I appreciate what they do for me. I want them to know that I depend on them. I define a leader as someone who walks out in front of his men but he doesn't get too far out in front to where he cannot hear their footsteps. When you as a leader of people are naive enough to think that you, not your players, won the game, then you're in bad shape. Because when you start believing that, what happens? You become too wrapped up in your own importance.

You have to show you care? Well, you gotta talk to them. You gotta communicate with them. I take them out and work with them. There's no set way of doing the thing. See, I believe in hugging my players. I believe in patting them on the back. See, I believe in motivation. People say, God, you mean to tell me you've got a guy making a million and a half dollars and you got to motivate him? I say, absolutely. Everybody needs to be motivated. Everybody from the President of the United States on down to the guy who works in the clubhouse. We need to be convinced that we can do better than we're doing. That's where motivation becomes important. It's not a question that you're lazy. It's that you think in your mind, in your heart, that you're doing the best you can, but you're really not. If I can extract from all of the players all of the abilities that they have within them, then they're going to be tough to beat.

Wasn't that the story for you last year? You took some fringe players and motivated them, got that extra effort out of them. Winning the World Series in 1988 was positive proof of what you can obtain in life if you really believe in yourself. Those 24 players got together and all believed in themselves, and what they did last year showed. It captured the hearts of America because it showed that it is not always the strongest man that wins the fight. In most cases it's the one who wants it just a little bit more than the next, and that's what this team did last year. They wanted it more.

What does it take to make them want it more? When I come into this clubhouse, if I am dejected and I am depressed and I am tired and my players see me that way, what is the attitude and the atmosphere of the clubhouse going to be? If I walk in full of enthusiasm, full of self-confidence, and proud to be putting that uniform on -- all of those things are contagious. And that's the same attitude and atmosphere this clubhouse is going to have. It's the same thing with that executive, that leader of people. If he walks into his office in a bad mood, what's the attitude of his people going to be? So if he walks into that office full of enthusiasm, full of pride, full of understanding, full of self-confidence, then that's the way his people are going to be that are working for him.

How do you keep it up day in and day out? You've got to keep talking to them. You've got to keep believing. See, they ; hear me talk about how proud I am to be a Dodger, how proud I am to put that Dodger uniform on. They hear me all the time.

When new players join the club, don't they think it's corny? Well, they find out that you really mean it. They find out that you're honest. They'll find out if you're not honest. They'll find out if you don't mean it.

Is part of it encouraging your players to have fun? Yeah. I tell my people you gotta have fun in this game. You gotta enjoy yourself. I want a player, when he's at home, I want him to look at that clock and say, ''Gee, I can't wait. Another 15 minutes and I'm going to the ballpark to put that uniform on.'' Then there's another guy who looks at the clock and says, ''Holy Toledo, another 15 minutes and I gotta leave and I gotta go on to the ballpark.'' I don't want those guys. You don't win pennants with those guys.

How do you deal with guys who aren't cutting it? I can remember a player comes in, he wanted to talk to me one time. He said, ''Why aren't I playing?'' Now if I said to him, Son, the reason you're not playing is because you can't do this and you can't do this and you can't do that, what have I done to him? Now tomorrow I've got to put him in the lineup. I have to put the same guy in the lineup who I just told he can't do this and can't do that, and now I'm going to tell him he can do this, he can do that. So I don't tell him he can't do that. I tell him, Son, right now I'm playing what I think are the best eight guys on this team. Maybe tomorrow you might be one of those eight. So you must be a confidence builder. I try to refrain from using the words can't, won't, I don't know, maybe. I want him to say I can, I will, I must, I shall, I know.

But what if he doesn't respond to your coddling? Well, players are like snowflakes or fingerprints. There are no two alike. You have to handle them all different. Some guys, in order to get their attention, you have to holler at them and fine them. There are other guys you can't. Some guys you holler at them, they crawl into a shell. Some guys you holler at them, they lose their confidence. You gotta always try to do everything you can to help them maintain that confidence level. The name Bulldog, I gave it to ((star pitcher and World Series hero Orel)) Hershiser. When he first came up, I gave him a talk so good I wish I had it on tape. At the end, I told him, when the P.A. announcer says, ''Now pitching for the Dodgers, Orel Hershiser,'' do you think that scares ((Atlanta superhitter)) Dale Murphy? From now on you're Bulldog Hershiser.

How do you deal with failure? I learned that from my father. He told me that in everybody's lifetime there comes a time when one door is going to close on you, and if you're so concerned with the door that closes, you'll never find the one that's open. And how true that is. If you're worried about that last at bat, how are you going to think about your next at bat? What I try to convince the guy is, when you come back to the plate, if you think about your last at bat, you're going to be miserable, you're going to be depressed, but if you put a picture in your mind that you're going to get a base hit off him the next time, now how do you feel? You're still the same guy sitting there aren't you? I try to put positive pictures in the minds of my players.

You've always been known for treating the fans well, never turning down an autograph. What's that all about? Let me just say this. I tell my players time and time again to look up at the stands and say thank you, because if it weren't for those fans there wouldn't be any people like us. If a fan wants an autograph, try to accommodate him. When I was 14 years old I went to a New York Giants game. As the players were coming out of the clubhouse I asked one of them for his autograph. His name was Buster Maynard, and he brushed me off. About eight years later I was pitching for Greenville, South Carolina, and I'm on the mound and I hear the announcer say the next batter is Buster Maynard. I throw the first pitch at his head and knock him down. I throw the second pitch at his head and knock him down. He gets up and threatens to kill me if I do it again, but I throw the third pitch at his head and he comes running out and we fight. After the game I'm dressed and walking outside and Buster Maynard comes along. I'm ready to fight, but he says, ''Why were you knocking me down?'' I said, ''Didn't you play for the New York Giants?'' and he said, ''Yeah.'' I said, ''You didn't give me your autograph, you brushed me off.''

You've been offered lots more money to go elsewhere. That is without a doubt.

Why are you still with the Dodgers? I'm here because I appreciate what the Dodgers have done for me. I'm proud of the organization that I represent and I love what I'm doing.

You once said a lack of loyalty was ruining this country. What did you mean? I thought that people should be more proud of living and working in the greatest country in the world. I think that we should be proud when we get up in the morning. If we can't thank God for all the good things He's given us in life and we can't go to our place of employment happy and saying, Hey, we really and truly love what we're doing, then we are very unhappy people. We should do something else.

Some say corporate loyalty is dead. How do you keep loyalty alive? Loyalty means to me that first of all you really and truly love what you're doing. Loyalty means that you give in return what is given to you. How many people who are leaders, executives, know their people's names, the youngsters' names of the people working for them? How many times do they call the guy in and say, Hey, is there anything you need, anything I can do to help make your life better? That's how you get good performance. That's how you win.

And pride? See, if I was an executive of a corporation I would work at my people the same way I work at these ballplayers. No different. I'd have them proud that they work for AT&T or IBM. I'd tell them to be proud and to hold your head up high. You're working for the greatest organization in the world. I would make them feel like they were a very important part of that organization. I would let them know that if they put forth all the effort that they have, and they all get together, they could be No. 1.

So pride's the secret? I've been 40 years with this organization. Been 39 years married. Those are my two big loves, and I'm without a doubt the happiest man in the world. There isn't anybody in this world who loves his job more than I love mine. When I die I told my wife to put on my tombstone the Dodger home schedule, and when the people are in the cemetery visiting their loved ones, they'll say, Let's go to Lasorda's grave to find out if the Dodgers are playing at home or on the road. Now that is pride. How many people are walking the streets of this great nation who can honestly and truthfully say they would love to work for their organization when they're dead and gone?