Dependable Performers Are More Important Than All-Stars
Coaches know there is a difference between your best player and your most important player.
Some time ago, I was pondering why no professional sport had an All-Coachable team. We have awards for most valuable player, top scorer, rookie of the year, and the best individual players are selected to the All-Star team, but there’s nothing to reward the players who coaches deem to be the most reliable, hard-working, and honest.
To me, as a coach, that doesn’t make sense.
Bill Belichick, an eight-time Super Bowl champion coach (he won two with the Giants), calls these players his “dependables,” and suggests that these players, not your All-Stars, are the ones you should turn to in game-defining situations. “You have to go with the person who you have the most confidence in, the most consistent,” Belichick says. “And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but I’m going down with that person.”
In his book 59 Lessons, Fergus Connolly writes of a similar thought process used in Special Ops when they’re selecting soldiers. Naturally, you think the military always takes the most talented recruits, but it’s not the case. In a chapter titled Take The Right Guy, Not The Best Guy, the commander tells Fergus “I want the man who will give me eight out of ten [one day], eight out of ten [the next day], eight out of ten [the following day], because do you know what I’m going to get from that man tomorrow? Eight out of ten.”
Lastly, in an episode of his WorkLife podcast, Adam Grant goes into great detail (including bringing in Moneyball author Michael Lewis) to outline how Shane Battier was a core tenet to the Miami Heat winning back-to-back championships during the James-Wade-Bosh era.
"The Problem with All-Stars" from WorkLife with Adam Grant by TED Talks on Apple Podcasts
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It’s funny, though, because this flies in the face of everything we do in the workplace. We take the ‘best guy’ at every opportunity. We overlook our dependables in high-stakes situations. And it goes without saying that we don’t reward reliable performers with leadership positions.
If the world’s top sports team and the world’s top military unit want reliable performers over all-stars, what is it that we in business are missing?
As a leader, I urge you to consider who your dependables are. And more importantly; once you know who they are, make sure you tell them!