His question stopped me.
We had won a national championship the year before – the top team in college football. As a young assistant coach it was a tremendous experience, and it taught me what it takes for a team to succeed. Yet when Frank, our head coach, asked me the question, I was baffled.
“Mike, what do you think is the most important thing to be a successful coach?”
Well. We had practices every day. We had pre-practice meetings to plan them and post-practice meetings to evaluate them. We watched countless hours of game film (yes, it was film back then). We would meet on Sunday mornings at 6am to grade the game we had just played the day before. We would grade every player on every play to determine what they did well and what they needed to improve. We stayed after practice every night to watch game film of our next opponent. As a defensive coach, I would study the upcoming team’s offense to determine their tendencies. What were they likely to do in various situations? We had training programs for the players. In-season programs and off-season programs for strength, power and flexibility.
“I don’t know,” I confessed. “What is the most important thing to be a successful coach?”
“Mike,” he said in his deep, gravelly voice, “get the talent. Get the people who can get the job done. You will save yourself endless time and grief if you get the talent.”
Over the years I’ve found Frank’s insight to be exactly as true in business as it is in sports. Get the talent.
I was recently looking through the latest survey of the Inc. 500 CEOs. When asked about their biggest challenge, what do you think was their #1 concern by a margin of over 2-to-1? Attracting and retaining talent. Yup, it’s still true today.
It comes down to this: In your organization you could develop the right focus and create the right environment, but if you don’t get the right talent you will fail.
Get the talent.
Make it happen.