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Monday, December 26, 2011

Talent Versus Attitude - A Coach's Dilemma

Talent Gets You Access To The Game…Attitudes Separates The Great From The Good...
Bob Marsh, Sales Playbook

We all have witnessed that explosive wide receiver who can outrun any defensive back or the defensive lineman who can push through a double team, and get in the backfield before the quarterback has a chance to drop back…What about the quarterback who stands 6’5” in the pocket and has a rifle for an arm…Come draft day in the NFL, scouts, coaches, and general managers get together looking for the players with the best talent, who can run the 60 the fastest, who can bench press the most.  I think it’s safe to say that in the NFL, and probably most professional sports, head coaches live by the motto Talent Trumps Attitude.  Have you ever heard a top draft pick in any league selected solely because he is extremely coachable…has a winning attitude…is highly competitive…most likely, the answer is NO. 

No matter how tough the player can be to coach, how disruptive he can be in the locker room, or how many times he shows up in the headlines for saying something outrageous, if his skills can put points on the board more than likely he will find a team desperate enough to welcome him with open arms and an open wallet.   But is there a steep price to pay (that goes beyond their paycheck) that costs the team dearly in the long run?  As a coach, do you want a team filled with prima donnas, egos, and a laundry list of reasons why they can’t practice, or would you prefer to surround yourself with a group of players who are willing to go through walls to get “it” done, understand that no player is bigger than the team, and give 100% on every play?   

In the office, how many times have you seen a coworker strut their stuff, boasting about their past accomplishments, holding court by the water cooler, and pounding their chest in sales meetings, only to fall horribly short when they are given a responsibility or asked to take the lead on a project.  The moment the individual faces a road block, they are lost.  Sure, when they were first hired, everyone heard about their tremendous upside and how their hiring is going to put the entire staff on alert, but in the end, all you got was a lot of hot air.  The individuals that are consistently at the top of their profession are the ones sitting in front of “the class," engaged and actively contributing to the team’s goal.  They stimulate discussion, and are willing to put their own success aside for the betterment of the team.  They are part of the “assembly line,” coming to work every day and playing their role in the company’s success.  

Give me the player who has the raw skills and is a sponge in practice soaking up all he can to improve his game…Show me the player who might not have all the talent in the world, but knows how to get the job done…Get me the teammate that will pass up the accolades and the highlight reel, instead hinging their own success on the team’s record.  Equally important, is the effect a player with this mindset and commitment has on his teammates.  Look at many of the underdog success stories in sports, the David who slays Goliath, certainly you will find the team filled with players who have the “never say die” attitude and win at all costs spirit.    

Yes, everyone loves the one handed acrobatic catch, the ESPN play of the day, and the sprint to the end zone that brings the crowd to their feet, without the super athlete the game would be boring – I get it.  But looking to build a championship team, a team that competes day in and day out…I’ll take Attitude over Talent any day of the week – especially on Sundays!   

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