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Your A players Perform Better on Their Worst Days Than Your B Players on Their Best Days

Kilimanjaro Lesson #5

Your A players perform better on their worst days than your B players on their best days.

Yes, that is true. A players had their bad days, too, but they still outperformed B the players. We had days when we were ill, when altitude sickness messed with us or when we were just low on energy, yet we still got to the next camp first.

What makes one an A player?

  • Performance: Quality and/or quantity of work.

  • Aspiration: Engagement and the drive to perform.

  • Motivation: Intrinsic motivation to perform.

  • The talent they bring: Specific skills or strengths or expertise/knowledge (Mine was focus and achiever. They got me going no matter how bad I felt)

Now you see why they perform better even when down on their knees. They focus on achieving, have the internal drive that pushes them forward, and engage themselves in the task. They don't need anybody to engage or motivate them. For them, it is intrinsic. But most importantly, they are not driven by how they feel. Whether they feel crap or not in the mood for the task doesn't matter. They perform the same.

They pick themselves up and don't need somebody to come and have a pep talk of "you can do it". They know they can do it, they are just having temporary difficulties.

A players are super important on any team, and they are easy to manage. The only difficult thing about them is that they don't put up with BS and expect the same attitude from others, which is unrealistic as 80% of the workforce comprises B players. My hiking bestie (in the pic) doesn't know, for example, when to stop pushing others. Even when the B or C player shows clear signs of inability to perform, she would say, "Just compose yourself and keep going." I looked at her once after she said this to someone and thought, "That is ruthless...." It wasn't about composure. It was about physical inability, and we must acknowledge those inabilities in every part of life. We cannot push through everything.

Invest in your A players and focus most (around 70%) of your attention on them so your team and organisation can perform better. Why? Because they are the front horses that pull the carriage. They perform better than others, even on their worst day.

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