From Dugout to Boardroom

Running a business and managing a sports team take the same leadership qualities, UMaine head baseball coach Steve Trimper told students in MBS lecturer Clint Relyea’s organizational behavior class last fall.

“A successful CEO can coach a sports team, and a successful coach can run a business,” Trimper said in his presentation “Drive for Greatness: Building Leadership for your Team or Organization.”

Keeping the class enthralled with his enthusiastic, easygoing manner and personal experiences, Trimper discussed techniques that can help students develop their leadership skills and begin the path to professional and personal success.

“He got us interested and motivated right off the bat,” says Porter Rooney ’16, a management major.

Among Trimper’s leadership advice: surround yourself with good people; have a positive attitude; don’t let failure stop you; aim to improve your performance daily; be prepared to tell people what they don’t want to hear; provide direction while sharing control; and don’t worry about what people think.

“As a leader, think big — small minds can’t understand big dreams,” he told students. “Great thinkers are always thought to be a little crazy. They were going to execute (Isaac) Newton, they almost locked (Christopher) Columbus in a stockade and they fired Steve Jobs.”

After becoming interested in motivational and leadership practices six years ago, Trimper, who has a master’s degree in educational leadership, interviewed and shadowed CEOs from Fortune 100 companies and researched articles on the topic.

Now, in addition to training the Black Bears baseball team, he travels to businesses across the country to offer leadership tools and techniques that combine the managerial skills of high-powered executives with lessons he has learned from being a coach.

“It was very clear that he was passionate about what he was doing,” says Morgan Cushing ’17, who is a double major in management and marketing. “Everything he said connected to us in some way.”

He advised students to: think of failure as a gift that presents great opportunities for growth and tests your determination, commitment and courage; involve and empower everyone on your team by sharing control; and focus on short-term goals.

“Each week, try to be 5 percent better than you were before,” he said.

Ryan Lopes ’17, a management major, says Trimper’s advice about working on improving yourself and your organization a little every day resonated with him.

“I learned that if you do that consistently, the long-term goals will naturally follow,” he says.

Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen, Trimper told the students.

“The people around us have a huge influence on our success and failure. Find people with positive energy and build off those individuals,” he advised.

As a leader, “you have to fake it til you make it,” he said. “I know how hard it is to bolster a team’s spirits after a losing game. But, as a coach, I have to go in there with an ‘everything’s gonna be great’ attitude. Your optimism today leads to your success tomorrow. Believe in your team and the impossible will become the possible.”