It’s All About Who is in ‘The Seats’

Most of us are familiar with Jim Collins books and his reference to “having the right folks in the right seats on the bus” when we are building our teams and organizations. His perspective was, we have to decide who then what when assembling our dream teams to drive change and make a difference in our respective companies and organization. Surely, we all have the intention of hiring good folks; yet, I would wager that all of us have made poor people choices at some point in our career.

This weekend I ran across a newly published book written by Morton Mandel, a self-made entrepreneur who Peter Drucker once put on his short list of most admired CEOs. Mr. Mandel discusses in detail his philosophy of how to hire AND how to motivate these individuals to drive change and expand organizations. His insights are worthy of reading the entire book; just a few of his points are denoted below. To be fair, the concepts are very basic; however, in my experience, far too many organizations have become complacent in the execution.

1. Don’t settle for “Bs” and don’t tolerate “C” players. Weed them out. Attract “A” players – as they will attract more A players.

2. You get what you pay for. Period. Strong organizations will pay A players what they deserve AND will continue to recognize and reward “A” behavior and performance.

3. Recognize the distinctions between “A” and “B” performers. As are intent on raising the bar, always thinking ahead, and making hard calls to advance change. They are not afraid to shine a light on the status quo and take thoughtful risks to drive an agenda. Most importantly, leadership rewards these behaviors – in thought, word, and deed.

What do you think? Do you agree it is all about who is in the seat AND in what seat? If so – what suggestions do you have on hiring the right folks and placing them in positions where they can truly soar? And how do you think leadership can encourage “A” behavior and retain “A” players?

5 responses to “It’s All About Who is in ‘The Seats’

  1. You are so right about hiring A players. May I suggest another good book on this topic? How to Hire A-Players by Eric Herrenkohl. It’s a 24/7 responsibility and all managers should take this responsibility seriously if they want to move their organization to the next level.

  2. Kristin, I couldn’t agree more. I always knew I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but surrounding myself with really bright, intense, capable people was and is always to my and the organization’s benefit. Thank you.

  3. Thank you, Marvin and Cynthia, for your comments. Hiring AND keeping the right people in the right seats is one of the most challenging aspects of leadership. Seldom do we get it right 100% of the time -so when we do, it is cause for pause AND working overtime to keep folks happy and fulfilled in their positions, lest we find ourselves in recruitment mode again. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I agree with the quest for “A” players but to build an effective team Leaders must be sure their vision is clear and they understand the correct roles and responsibilities for each seat on the bus. Too often it’s all about star talent and not enough about the overall Team.

    You want “A” players aligned within the framework of a team. For example, having rock star sales people without a solid delivery team becomes futile very quickly. Initial sales shine but repeat business that provides the foundation for sustainable growth becomes the limiting factor.

    These seem obvious but you’d be surprised at how many organizations struggle with this roles and responsibility alignment.

  5. Thank you, Dale. Yes – ALIGNMENT – is my core service offering; and yes, people alignment with the overall strategy, goal, and ‘end game’ is a core and basic tenant.

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