The Leadership Playbook: Enough Players on the Field

Imagine your business is a sports team. Let’s use an American football team as our example. You need eleven players to play the game.

But let’s say that you don’t have eleven players. Right now, you only have ten players. You’re missing a player, so there is no way you can run your plays, and it is nearly impossible to win. You say, “But it’s not like I am missing the quarterback. I’m only missing the right offensive tackle. Other players are going to have to pick up that work.”

Your right guard and your right tight end do their best. But there is more coming at them than they can handle. Your opponent keeps breaking through, and you can’t execute your plays the way that they are designed to be run.

Business is very much like a sports contest. Your priority is to build the very best team you can, either by acquiring the talent you need or developing that talent. But you can’t wait until you have the perfect team to play the game. The game has already started. Your business is already operating.

You have to have enough players on the field to play your game.

  • If you are in sales and your headcount is supposed to be ten, then you need ten salespeople in the field. If each salesperson has a quota of $1,000,000 in revenue, not having that salesperson means you reduce your chances of reaching your goal. More still, as sales cycles grow longer, the longer you go without that salesperson, the more you put the following periods at risk.
  • Being short in operational roles can be even worse. You might believe you can have the salespeople do the work of implementing the new client they won. But this pulls them out of the field, and it destroys their ability to prospect, to build a pipeline, and to win new deals. If you don’t have the salespeople do this work and decide instead to have someone else do the work, they will neglect other work or do poor work on new clients.

If you are in leadership, you need to field the best team you can. But you also need to make sure you have enough players. You cannot play the game without having enough players.

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Filed under: Sales

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