I like sports. While I don’t fall into the category of “athletic”, I do enjoy watching ball games and attempting to play a sport or two on occasion. I’m a fan of a few teams, but I would have to say my favorite team in the Atlanta Braves.

Growing up in Alabama, I didn’t have any pro teams of any sport to cheer for in my own state. My parents grew up in Georgia, so we were default Braves fans. The Braves were still on TBS for nearly every game in those days, so we were always able to catch a game.

This past Saturday I was driving up to Atlanta to meet with a few friends. As I got closer to Atlanta I found a radio station playing the Braves game. The game hadn’t started yet, but the retirement ceremony for Bobby Cox was under way.

Bobby Cox is the 4th winningest manager in MLB history. He led the Braves to 14 straight division titles, which is an unprecedented feat in any sport. Players such as John Smoltz, Greg Maddox, Chipper Jones, and (my sister’s favorite) Javier Lopez have come under his leadership.

For Braves fans, I think there is one record that they appreciate more than the number of wins or division titles. Bobby Cox holds the record for the most ejections of any manager, which is currently at 158. Why so many ejections? He isn’t a mean manager like some, he doesn’t get in fights with his players like some, and he doesn’t cuss at the media like some. Why get ejected so often? Simple

He got ejected because of the fierce loyalty to his players.

Cox didn’t come waddling out of the dugout for fun because he felt like watching the game in the locker room. He almost always got ejected to prevent his players from getting ejected. He knew that he couldn’t throw strikeouts and hit home runs, but they could. If anyone was going to get ejected, he wanted it to be him. He was willing to take the fall so that his players and the team could have the opportunity for success

How often do you defend those you lead with that kind of fierce loyalty? With every ejection Cox proved to his players that he was there to defend them no matter what. The more they saw his commitment to them, they became more committed to him. Protecting those he led was a high priority, and everyone knew it.

As we lead those around us, we should seek to defend them no matter what. Such a loyalty to those you lead shows them your willingness to work for them. This can begin to build a culture of respect and loyalty that can’t be developed through cute sayings and training sessions. Respect and loyalty lead to deep trust, which leads to a team that is unstoppable.

And let’s hope the Braves have become a team that is unstoppable, all the way to another World Series title.