A small team of A players can run circles around a giant team of B & C players. – Steve Jobs
I love this quote by Steve Jobs. In fact, I’ve structured the way I approach building teams based on that philosophy and this thought by Connie Mack: You get good people, you treat them well and you’ll win. To clarify, this is not the same thing as having an all-star team; we’ve talked before that all-star teams regularly get beaten by good teams who play well together. This is about identifying teammates who are hardwired to succeed and then empowering them to do just that.
From a leadership standpoint, there are tons of reasons why I want to be around ‘A’ players. Here are a few:
‘A’ players push other people to be better. They are constantly competing for greatness, but not necessarily competing with each other. ‘A’ players take what others are doing and innovate from that, always raising the bar. As you know, our team recently finished reading the book Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. This is exactly what that book is all about: putting amazing, creative, awesome people in the same room and letting them do great things together. They are constantly challenging each other to produce something that is far superior than the sum of its individual parts.
From a plain and simple management standpoint, ‘A’ players create fewer problems. We do not have a human resources director at Southwest Michigan First and don’t worry about those typical kinds of issues because we have amazing people. We don’t spend a lot of time keeping track of hours that people work or who takes what day off. Instead, it is about hiring high performance people that produce much more than those who just punch a clock.
Where we’ve seen issues in the past is in hiring people because we liked them or because they needed a job, even if they might not have been an ‘A.’ This is one of the reasons we have such a strict and well-organized strategy for hiring people. If we don’t, I’ll end up hiring everyone. I love everybody that I meet for one reason or another and I want to give everyone a shot at being awesome, but what I’ve learned is that I often want more for people than they want for themselves. Regardless of personal feelings, we have to be strategic in only hiring ‘A’ players.
As I’ve seen throughout my career, great people leave great organizations for really only one of two reasons. One, they had an opportunity to advance their leadership impact or two, they didn’t want to work with a ‘B’ player that they were closely aligned with. You see, even one ‘B’ player brings down the average of the whole team and great people don’t want to be around that. ‘A’ players want to be around equally amazing, driven and exciting people.
When you hire ‘A’ players, you can have fewer employees with equal or greater impact than those organizations who may have double the staff size. We find this true every year when consultants chart our organization against other peer companies in the country. This strategy is proven to work and is about surrounding yourself with high performers who never stop challenging us to be great.
Question: Who are you surrounding yourself with? Do your hiring strategies allow you to bring on the right caliber of players?