Something I hadn’t given much thought until a consultant mentioned it during a training session last week. In his mind, if you’re going to “win,” the only way you can do so is if your team is made up of entirely “A” and “B” level talent. If you’ve got “Cs,” you’ve got to move them out and I mean yesterday.
He used the example of the Chicago Bulls. And it’s hard to argue their results—the Michael Jordan-led Bulls racked up 6 NBA Championships in 8 years. Jordan was clearly an “A+++” player. Scottie Pippen was an “A” or “B” depending on who you ask. And the same holds true for Dennis Rodman and other members of the team who might not have been the strongest overall athlete at their position but who knew and could execute their role.
And that’s what got me thinking. When the Bulls were making their championship runs, their centers were, if I’m not mistaken, a combination of the likes of Bill Cartwright, Will Perdue, Bill Wennington, Luc Longley, Scott Williams, and Stacey King. Collectively, at center, I think most sports fans would agree the Bulls had C-level talent. And that begs the question–in business can a team win with “C” players?
As a manager, and in the interest of full disclosure also a big Phil Jackson fan, I would argue it’s more about your system and your ability to get the most out of every member of your team than it is rushing to jettison your C players. To me, the real question is about commitment. Are the members of your staff totally committed to your business and to the team’s success? If so, I believe it’s possible to put systems in place that will allow them to be successful (assuming they’re in the right position). For example, if you have someone who is interested in taking on more of a client-facing role but who struggles to think on his or her feet, you can develop a script of possible scenarios ahead of time that he or she can use as a guide. You could also develop a pitch book that can be used as a reference point to give otherwise open-ended conversations some structure.
Had the Bulls roster been made up of all “A’s” and “B’s”, there definitely wouldn’t have been enough shots, rebounds, or assists to go around. Before you rush to get rid of your “C” players, look for ways you might be able to get them to fit into your organization. And don’t forget, a key part of being a championship team is coaching. Look for opportunities to get the most out of the players who are already on your squad.
Shawn Graham is Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (www.courtingyourcareer.com).