The Recruiting Wars Updated: All Star Talent Takes (Another) Beating

Dallas Mavericks logo

Dallas Mavericks logo

The lure of “A” players – that “can’t miss” man or woman that so many companies claim to recruit and land – has taken another beating.

It’s not the first time that topgrading and the “A” Player strategy as a hoax has been exposed – and it won’t be its last. Like instant diets and get rich schemes, the attraction of the easy and instant talent fix never ceases to fascinate.

While in this case it’s on the basketball court, it might just have well been on the playing field of corporate board rooms or the desks of any startup in North America. Take any five men or women and put them in shorts on hardwood and you can learn a lot about what works, and what brings home championships.

When NBA free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh landed in Miami last summer to join Dwayne Wade with the Miami Heat basketball team, pundits around the world crowned the the trio – to be joined by any two common players – as the next world champs.

After all, if you’ve got A Player talent. don’t you always win?


It turns out the life on the basketball courts looks a lot like life with a scrappy startup or the refined Fortune 500 firm. Success is not just about talent (or IQ for that matter) but how well people work together (aka execution), combined with strategy. And as I know from my work coaching execs as well as startup and leadership teams, good teamwork takes work. While the work can be even fun sometimes, it doesn’t happen by accident. Successful startups and work teams work on the “teaming” part of their game, just like you’d work on any other part of your business.

So what the NBA Dallas Mavericks did in beating the heavily favored Heat – where odds were that the Heat would win in 6 games – for this year’s men’s NBA Championship is the same thing that any organization with heart, humor, decent strategy and teamwork can do.


Turns out that the path to success frequently involves some of the soft skills in life – working well together for example.

And the presumed “A” Players – with all the brights and visible talent – may not do so well.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.



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