Not Everyone Is (or, can be) an A-Level Player

deepthroat“The truth is, these are not very bright guys.”
Deep Throat (from All The President’s Men)


Let’s think about “talent…”

Let’s fire all the poor teachers.
Let’s hire only the A players.
Let’s practice differentiation with a vengeance. Let’s get rid of all the less-than-sterling workers.

That seems to be the philosophy of many…

Consider these two excerpts from this article by Paul Campos (The Atlantic) The Law-School Scam. The article is about the problem of for-profit law schools and the debt incurred by the students who will most likely never be A-level lawyers. Notice especially the word “underqualified.”

This world is one in which schools accredited by the American Bar Association admit large numbers of severely underqualified students; these students in turn take out hundreds of millions of dollars in loans annually, much of which they will never be able to repay. Eventually, federal taxpayers will be stuck with the tab, even as the schools themselves continue to reap enormous profits.

The arrangement bears a notable resemblance to the subprime-mortgage-lending industry of a decade ago, with private equity playing the role of the investment banks, underqualified law students serving as the equivalent of overleveraged home buyers, and the American Bar Association standing in for the feckless ratings agencies.

Well, news flash – many jobs are filled by folks who are not the very best qualified to do the job. And, they never will be.

Finding: research indicates that some people are born to sell – or, at least raised that way. (from a Sales and Marketing article, from March/April, 2014).

Sales Training does not work – for everyone. Leadership development has not developed enough leaders. Not all students are A students. (That is really right – I teach at the Community College level. “Not all students are A students” is an absolutely correct observation).

One reason: the best trainer, mentor, teacher needs a student or learner who has been raised to learn, nurtured to learn, and has developed that inner motivation to learn. (In education, it really does not make sense to punish good teachers who work with students so un-ready to learn).

I love to read about talent acquisition and talent development. But, open your eyes, pay even the slightest amount of attention, and you realize – not every one is an A-level player.  That’s why making the perfect hire is such a “Rare Find.”

And so, we see companies which are not able to recruit and retain A players lose out to those which can.

Question: You are a great computer code writer. You are a great design system thinker. A true A-level player. Would you rather work for Apple, or a Silicon Valley start-up, and cash in on your millions/billions; or would you like to work for government pay designing the latest government web site? Who do you think has more of the A-level players in their interested talent pool? …And, then, we all complain that the web site doesn’t work well enough or fast enough….

Call this an “I’m just thinking out loud” blog post about talent.

It seems to me that our very best A-level players need to put their best efforts into designing systems that help the less-than-A-level players be competent enough to get the job done.

Not all teachers are A-level teachers.
Not all leaders are A-level leaders.
Not all football players are Super Bowl winning, A-level players.
Not all coaches are A-level coaches.

I help people know the best ideas from business books. Of course, I wish that everyone read every good business book. (By the way, not all business books are A-level books, written by A-level authors, with A-level ideas). And then I wish that all people learned all the important lessons, and put them into practice.

Guess what? They won’t. They don’t, and they won’t…

(And by the way, not all book readers are A-level book readers).

So let’s all aim to get better. Let’s all help everyone get better. Let’s help people up their game.

But don’t think there are truly enough A-level players to go around to every job that needs them. There aren’t… there never will be.


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