Watching both the women’s bobsled and the women’s aerial skiing last night, I was struck by the athletic histories of the American competitors. It’s my recollection that none of them grew up wanting to bobsledders or aerialists. The aerialists all seemed to be a gymnast in their previous life. Many of the bobsledders were track, soccer, or basketball players. So how did they become “A” players as bobsledders and aerialists (making the Olympic Finals qualifies as an “A” player to me)?
Here’s what I think: Some one at the federation level realized that the pool of people available that were experts at this was limited. They determined the athletic attributes that would make a good bobsledder or aerialist and then approached athletes who were pretty good but not good enough to make to the podium in the original sport, but had competitive drive. And invited them to try this new sport.
To create A Players in our companies, we often have to do the same thing. The pool of already accomplished “A” Players is slim for a given position you need. But potential “A” players are out there just waiting to be invited to your company to get to the top. Determine the attributes and skills and needed and look at groups of people who have those skills but are deadheaded where they are, and make the invitation.