Jeffrey Hayzlett, a leading business expert, tells a great story about the importance of putting the right people in the right positions:

“In a meeting room I had changed the clock and waited. When people filed in, they complained about the clock being off. They wanted to form a committee to fix the clock. Then a woman stood up, stood on a chair and fixed the clock. I promoted her the next day. It’s people like that that you want on your team. Clock changers, people who will get the job done.” Or in my view, A players.

Who Are Your Clock Changers (A Players)?

There is a reason we hire certain people. It is more than how they look on paper. It is more than just their personality and cultural fit. It is about the talent they bring to the company and their future ability to contribute. We all build our teams based in part on how we believe each team member will fit and grow with us. Where we often err as leaders is when we employ someone who is incapable of rising to the occasion – someone incapable of stepping up and changing the clock.

I tell the leaders I work with all the time: You need A players to make an A team. Taking this one step further, in some instances, you actually need all A players. Some of you may say that such a notion is heresy, but any company that is climbing the proverbial Mount Everest – and I am currently partnering with two of them – cannot afford anything less than A players: Team players who are ready to lead the charge, strap on their packs, and navigate the climb, no matter what the conditions.

[Tweet “A players lead the charge, strap on packs, and navigate the climb, no matter the conditions.”]

How Do You Coach A Players?

As leaders, we need to quit nursing the idle team members along. In a recent offsite, a leadership team I was with spent over 40 minutes discussing three of the folks that were not going to be on the bus. If you are spending all of your time focused on those who are not delivering – in meetings, during development, when working on projects – you have already lost. Everyone is picking up their slack.

Geoffrey Chaucer once noted that “time and tide wait for no man.” Now is the time for you, as a leader, to make the hard decisions and put the right people in the right positions, even if it means identifying the ones who are holding you back and taking decisive action to get them up to speed or out the door.

[Tweet “To build your A team, make the hard decisions and put the right people in the right positions.”]

To ensure you build your A Team, take a page out of UCONN Women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma’s book and quit coaching to the bottom.

  • Coach your team beyond what they think they are capable of accomplishing
  • If they do not rise, they do not play – no exceptions
  • Get rid of the ones who cannot rise, and do it quickly

Believe it or not your A Players will thank you. A players want to play with A players; it makes them better, it ups their game, and yes, it ups your game as a leader. There’s nothing better than that. Go look at your clock. Who changed it last?

As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

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