Character, culture, chemistry – and the Chicago Cubs

Published: November 2, 2017

a profile image of president mike williams and the words 'now and next'



When Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein set about transforming the team from perennial losers to championship contenders, he drew up a blueprint that was unusual for baseball.

The Cubs, he determined, would only acquire players with outstanding character. It was essential to his plan, and one of the pillars upon which he would build a World Series championship team.

“We are not going to compromise character for talent,” Epstein said. “We’re going to have both.”

Epstein’s plan – and the Cubs’ journey to the 2016 World Series title – is detailed in a new book by Tom Verducci called “The Cubs Way.” While it’s a compelling read about building a great sports team, it’s also a fascinating treatise on effective leadership and the importance of character, culture and chemistry in the workplace.

Epstein was changing a longstanding organizational model that had repeatedly failed, a model that focused on skills over everything else. At UNT Health Science Center, we’re changing our organizational model to build resiliency, to position ourselves for success in years to come, to grow the community’s understanding of who we are and what we do, and to become a “Best Place for All.”

In this book, I recognized the similar journey we’re taking together toward achieving our vision of One University, built on values, defining and producing the providers of the future.

Our sustainable people culture is a key element of the One University vision, and that culture is a reflection of our core values. I believe our values act like a magnet to attract high-character individuals who will help make UNTHSC a nationally recognized, Best Place for All workplace.

In fiscal year 2017, more than half of our new employees came through a values-based hiring process. I expect those numbers to increase during the 2018 fiscal year. I want everyone in our market to understand that UNTHSC hires for character, first and foremost. We’re looking for team members whose personal values and character are in harmony with our culture – those who will accelerate our journey.

That’s what the Cubs did, too. They, of course, looked for team members who could hit, pitch, run and field. But Epstein and his scouting department first searched for characteristics such as leadership, whether a player would fit in with the group, set high individual expectations, hold teammates accountable and respond well to adversity.

At UNTHSC, we want you to be invested in your teammates, to show resiliency, to respond positively to adversity. We want team members we all like being around. We want to work with those whom we trust, and who extend trust to others. We want innovators, visionaries and people willing to commit to something bigger than themselves.

Ultimately, we want team members who live our values and will join us in the Extraordinary Teamwork that makes the One University vision achievable.

If you have questions or comments for me about our vision, goals or other topics, I encourage you to email me at

Together, we’ll create a Health Science Center that’s greater than the sum of its parts. I’m grateful for the work you do at UNTHSC.

My best always,
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Dr. Michael R. Williams
UNTHSC President