50 Posts 50 Rules: Tom Peters on Leadership #4

4.    When it comes to talent, leadership doesn’t income-average.

Talent is critical. It is not the only thing but it is an important thing. I have always believed in the model of Ayso soccer here in the USA. You take the kids rank them by skill level then randomly place them across all the teams in the age group so that the average talent level on paper is identical. In theory the biggest difference becomes the coaches ability to coach the kids. Of course the reality is the rating system rarely works with 100% accuracy and a super star kid rated in the middle of the pack accidentally tears up the league. But for the most part the system works extremely well. As the coach (read leader) my job is to train the kids to be an effective unit that has a confident grasp on all aspects of the game, offense, defense, goal keeping, neutral zone play etc. With an effective system we decrease the other teams ability to beat us. Yet there is another level to this story. The great coach (Leader) also sees who has talent. He places the players in positions that maximize their talent and help the team reach a new level of performance. The last team I coached had an extraordinary young man who could move the ball with ease, control the play through dribbling and had a commanding view of the field. I could place him anywhere and he would do well. In one particular game with a comfortable lead (in part from his goals) I placed him at sweeper for the second half. Weak midfielders in front and a weaker keeper behind. I asked him if he wanted to win. With fire in his eyes he affirmed the question. I explained the situation and told him if we were to win it would be because he would control the defensive half of the pitch and keep the other team from scoring. He did, we won. He was ecstatic. How could I put that much pressure on a 10 year old? I knew he had the talent, the physical ability and the drive to achieve the goal. Had it been any other player on the team I would not have done the same. How much do you figure this young man’s confidence to “want the ball in the final seconds” increased that day?! This young man was a leader in the making. He was special and needed to be challenged as such. 

Challenge: Do you believe in the “golden rule”, treat others the way you want to be treated? Challenge your best performer in a new and unique way that will better your team. Challenge them in a way that you would not challenge your average player. Start small if you want to, just try something new (not something stupid of course)

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