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A & B Players and What They Need

Kilimanjaro Lesson #3


A players need leaders, and B players need managers.


I am preparing to facilitate the "Building High-Performing Teams," I noticed something. The categorisation of employees often misses the required management style. We are led to believe and have the natural tendency to treat everyone the same, but that doesn't work.


A players are your Star performers. They are individuals known for taking risks, being independent and self-motivated, and achieving ambitious outcomes. They are the high-potential individuals within an organisation who frequently generate pioneering trends and drive change. These individuals are also more prone to seeking external opportunities, which may lead them to leave the current organisation. Key characteristics:


  • When you give them a task or responsibility, you are confident it will get done.

  • They recruit A players.

  • When they need to do something new, they teach themselves.

  • When they are blocked, they ask for help.

B players are competent and reliable performers who manage their professional commitments while shouldering a significant portion of the company's workload. These individuals are typically content in their current positions, displaying self-sufficiency within the scope of their work and consistently managing their tasks. They excel in execution in areas that are known and familiar to them. Key characteristics:


  • When you give them a task, they get it mostly done but need guidance.

  • They recruit B & C players (Don't let your B players recruit).

  • When they need to do something new, you have to guide them towards how to learn or do it.

  • When they are blocked, they waste time trying to figure it out inefficiently rather than admit they are struggling.


A players need to be shown the vision/target/goal and they know what to do, while B players need to be managed to get where we want them to be.

I saw that in the mountains too. A players had the summit in mind, and they figured out every detail by themselves that would take them up there. I heard conversations about clothing, sleep, food, water, toilet, etc. They planned and decided by themselves and asked very few questions. They were comfortable with making the wrong decision.


On the other hand, B players had only the next step in mind and wanted people to tell them what they had to prepare and do. They would even ask how many litres of water they would need. They almost didn't want to make decisions or take responsibility. Some tried to figure it out but were very inefficient, and we had to step in as they were running late or got completely stuck. The reliance on others to perform was visible, therefore, they require managers and not leaders. If you show these guys the summit or a vision or goal, they will likely lack the ability to figure out the details that will take them there. One of them got herself carried up the mountain by two guides. Imagine that person in the workplace???????????????? That's your C player by the way.




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