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The A Team for everyday, not just crises

Angelo Santinelli has a good post today comparing the Team of Rivals approach that Obama appears to be taking in putting his team together with an entrepreneur putting a team together of A players, including people strong enough to lead on their own.  As Angelo says:

...President Elect Obama is surrounding himself with “A” players, because this is what confident “A” Players do naturally.  “B” players surround themselves with “C” players, so that they can feel confident about themselves.

High praise from a committed conservative!

Although Angelo talks about this in the context of a crisis, I think that this has to be the everyday strategy of every manager.  A good leader can attract strong team members.  If they hire weaker people, they will never succeed.

I once met with an MIT professor who was looking for advice on starting a company and, eventually, raising venture capital financing.  I asked him what his goals were for his proposed business.  I expected an answer like "make a lot of money" or "see my technology make it into the market" or "use this medical technology to help people."  Instead, he said "I want to always be the boss!"  Well, this is a recipe for failure.  And, no VC would ever fund you (if you honestly tell them this).  But, even worse, you'll never attract A players to your team with this approach.  Sure, you could hire people who worship you and see you as being the boss for all time.  But, they won't challenge and drive you.  Needless to say, the right answer to my question is the honest one, but the winning answer is to want to see the company succeed over your own personal ambitions.

How do you attract A players?  First, you need a compelling vision.  You need to include them in the decision-making process, including keeping an open mind to their advice.  You need to foster team work and a culture of success.  And, you need to cull out people who don't fit this model.  Perhaps I'll write up a follow-on post soon with more details on this.


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