X Player

I’ve heard from some marketing/business gurus that there’s no point in hiring B players and trying to turn them into A players. You have to only hire A players to succeed.

This always bothered me because I’ve always believed that innate talent exists.. but it still can be beaten by hard training.
And I guess these gurus aren’t denying that you can turn B players into A players. I think their point is that it’s not your job to do that.

Your job as a business, or someone who has responsibilities to the business, is to hire based on what’s best for the business. If you feel that is too capitalist, then consider that a business is a group of individuals who interact closely with each other to make money. So when you are looking out for the welfare of a business, you’re actually looking out for the welfare of your coworkers and their families.

These gurus say that hiring B players weaken the integrity of the system. B players drive out A players and hire in C players (because they’re scared of hiring someone who can show them up). So imagine if you hire just one B player, at best they replace and A player with a C player. You can imagine how things disintegrate from there.

Leveling up the B player

It is possible though to turn an A player into a B player.
What would it require to turn a B player into an A player? Could a mentored pair between a B and an A player be the trick?
Likely not. What would happen is that the A player, who is usually the most anti-social type, become very annoyed and impatient with the level of effort they perceive that the B player is putting in. The B player in turn becomes scared and/or resentful of the A player.

This will eventually come to a head and, if the employer refuses to do something about the B player, the A player quits.

One in A..

So it’s obvious that all companies should only hire A players right? Right.

Except that the ratio of A players to any other type os about 1 in a 100. And usually A players are brash, full of themselves, and/or socially awkward. Most humans aren’t socially engineered to like A players. A players are usually the weird kid who always did well in school but people picked on or snickered at.

The search for A players is a slow process. Each A player is a hundred times more valuable to the company, but it also takes a 100 times as much effort for the company to find and attract these people. So any company that wants to actually survive, because some work still needs to get done while looking for these A players, will compromise and hire B players.

The X player

So in reality, how is any company supposed to survive if B players portend utter doom, and A players are so hard to find?
Introduce, the X player.

The X player is the Uber-A player. This is a player who has the social graces of a B player, with the discipline and skill of an A player. This is the rare breed of people that B players can get along with, sometimes to the point of adoring fans. And A players don’t get annoyed or impatient with the B players. They somehow have an infinite well of patience and compassion so as to teach and nurture these B players.
Usually X players inspire B players to step up their game and transform into A players.

The odds of finding an X player is, of course, much higher than finding an A player. But the beauty of the X player is that you only need a few in your company, depending on the size. A single X player can sustain many B players, sometimes you might just need one for the entire company..

These X players do exist. I’ve personally had the privilege, and luck, of working with a few of them. They’re incredible people, and they might just be the X factor between a successful company, and a failure.


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