I was engaged in a conversation recently where the topic under discussion was "What defines an "A" class player?" Others in the conversation were trying to get a handle on 'greatness', because they desire to create an "A" class Team in their work environment. They want to lead their organization to the 'top of the heap', so they wish to purposefully seek out and hire "A" class players. So it seemed important to try and understand how we go about determining 'greatness'; how do we know when we meet, or when we see, or when we interview, or even when we work with an "A" class player. I'm going to expand on that discussion and attempt to outline what seems to be some of the obvious discriminators. And of course, I invite you, the reader, to add your insights.
First, let’s start at the beginning. Some say that the "A" class player is born with whatever it takes. Others think that it can be learned and nurtured. That brings into question the concept of 'talent'. Is talent an inherent quality, something one is born with -or can it be considered a ‘skill’ that can be learned? I contend that it goes even deeper than talent. Talent and skill alone doesn't make the "A" class player. You have probably known talented or skilled people -perhaps in the top of his/her talent or skill, yet unable to rise in the work environment to be a truly "A" class player. There is something at the 'root' of an "A" class player that allows them to focus their natural talent and focus their learned 'skills' and rise to greatness in the work environment.
Let's accept that there may be 'talent' and that there may be 'skills'. The "A" class player hones his/her talent, learns 'skills' –practices both, expands his/her knowledge, and in general is 'prepared'. Most definitely there will be preparation. Lots of preparation: practice, skill building, learning, even observing other "A" class players. The "A" class player has a lot of desire and a lot of drive to be an "A" class player. The "A" class player will discover and truly 'know' his/her strengths and weaknesses. He or she will have a strong 'work ethic' –taking pride in his/her accomplishments. He or she will be able to concentrate on the task as hand, exhibiting intense 'staying power', even while maintaining the 'larger picture'. The "A" class player will be more attuned to seeing how all the parts fit together.
The "A" class player desires to that his/her work be significant, be noteworthy, and make a tangible contribution to the overall effort. The "A" class player can be counted on to give more that the minimum required –they understand that excellence requires exceptional effort. He or she constantly exhibits passion for the endeavor and will take pride in making the ‘last effort’ to push the objective to completion.
The “A” class player has ‘charisma’ –everyone around him/her actually ‘feels’ better and contributes more as a result. He or she leads by doing, leads by example. The “A” class player does not engage in demeaning or humiliating actions or behaviors towards others. The "A" class player has a keen sense of right and wrong, a highly developed ethical map, and a strong moral compass. The “A” class player will often show a deep respect for his/her competitors –for those competitors are often his/her peers. The “A” class player easily handles the high level of attention and stress –and actually seems to enjoy it.
The “A” class player understands that it is necessary to take ‘risks’ –yet attempts to understand and mitigate all known risks. And the “A” class player will learn from his/her mistakes. The “A” class player is capable of adjusting goals and objectives, exhibiting flexibility, and delivering the expected end product.
The "A" class player will have a passion for their work -and they will have passion for their play, their non-work life. The “A” class player will have a strong, vibrant, and invigorating family and social life. The "A" class player will know and understand balance.
It was mentioned above that the "A" class player observes other "A" class players to learn. They will also seek out other "A" class players for networking, socializing, and for friendship. They will gravitate towards others exhibiting greatness because they subconsciously understand that the bright light of another 'star' challenges them to improve –and it also illuminates them and causes them to shine brighter. The "A" class player desires to surround him/herself with greatness. The "A" class player desires to be on the winning 'team'. The “A” class player wants to be on the “A” Team.
So, tell me, are you an "A" class player?
Do you work with one?
(Next I will explore what does it take to create an "A" Team.)