I'd like to believe that over the course of 20 years, my co-founder and I have done a fairly competent job of building a senior management dream team.
In doing so, we've borrowed liberally from the vernacular of baseball, track, football and basketball to define and describe the exact qualities and characteristics we sought in building the team. Here are the players I think you'll need to win the next Super Bowl.
1. The five-skill player
In baseball, a five-tool player is someone who can run, throw, field, hit and hit with power. In my business, PR, a five-skill player can attract new business, deepen existing client relationships, help set the agency's strategic vision, write, and edit.
2. The rabbit
In group track-and-field events, every team needs a rabbit. The rabbit is the person who sets an incredibly fast pace early in the race. She forces the real stars to keep up, enables them to finish strong and, hopefully, set a new world's record in the process. She'll constantly be smiling-and-dialing, attending conferences, brunching with prospects and, in short, doing everything in her power to speed up the business development process.
3. The firefighter
I guarantee you will encounter a very significant crisis along the way. Our dream team contains several firefighters who are The Harlem Globetrotters of crisis management. They not only bring all the tricks of the trade to bear in assessing the crisis but, critically, do so with the same cool, calm, and collected demeanor a 911 responder would bring with him when entering a burning building.
4. The punter
Our management team will often argue long and hard as to whether to defend an existing piece of business, devote the resources to pitch a new one, or simply walk away from a client. The punter brings the voice of reason into the conference room. As a result, we typically avoid the Hail Mary pass and, instead, opt for a coffin-corner punt.
5. Rotating quarterbacks
Every business needs one person to make the final decision. Or not. Marc H. Meyer, founder of the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Group at Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business, advises uses rotating quarterbacks. "One-person shows rarely achieve success in a new venture," said Meyer. And that's precisely what we do at my firm. My co-founder and I, together, will agonize over a huge decision, argue the various viewpoints, and arrive at a consensus.
6. The utility player
Every dream team needs someone who can fill-in for a sick, or recently departed, teammate and continue servicing an account. We have just such a player. She'll step-up without question, throw herself into the new, and totally unexpected, assignment, and produce extraordinary results.
7. The cleanup hitter
Every now and then, the ultimate new business opportunity presents itself. When it does, we choose the most competent members of our dream team to pitch the business. But, we also assign a cleanup hitter. This is the individual who possesses the most relevant experience. The end result is always the same: a jaw-dropping, head nodding, smile-inducing response from the customer decision-makers. Cleanup hitters are worth their weight in gold.
8. The loyal soldier
Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said he always staffed his teams with at least one person who would "...bleed Dodger blue." Every dream team needs one player who will be your front-line ambassador with all stakeholder audiences and consistently wax poetic about your organization's major strengths. Mark Benhar, president of Benhar Office Interiors, a company that creates workspaces, put it this way: "Make sure your team member's passions are perfectly aligned with the organizations." Countless sports teams have recruited a major talent only to find out that he's a disruptive influence who cares first, last, and always about himself. (Think: Barry Bonds.) Raw talent is great, but not at the price of your firm's reputation and culture.
9. The scout
Northeastern's Meyer argues that every dream team needs an external adviser (or, to borrow a sports term, a scout). The scout's role is to troll the industry for future dream team members, uncover prospective customers, and most importantly serve as a combination mediator, moderator, and negotiator whenever your dream team meets to map out next year's strategic vision. We've always employed a scout to serve just that role. You'll find a scout's perspective will unearth macro trends and issues that you and your superstars are simply too mired in the weeds to see.
There you have it. I've given you're the roadmap. Now, all you have to do is execute. Go forth and assemble a team that will simultaneously shatter the world record for the mile run, win the NCAA college basketball tournament, and sweep the World Series in four games. It's a tall order, but you can do it. So go out there and win one for the Gipper.