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Lead Dog

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This past weekend, my wife and I were fortunate to be able to slip away for a concert date night. The headliner was rising country music star Chris Stapleton. As anticipated, the show was great. There are few iconic voices in all of music that rival Stapleton’s.


One thing that I didn’t expect was how great a musician Stapleton is. While I’m not a music expert per se, it was clear that he was the best instrumentalist on the stage. As each song played out, I began to wonder…..


Is it best to have your top player up front as the “lead dog” or is it better to have good players supported by the A+ talent in the background?


For instance, Eddie Van Halen was never the front man for his band, David Lee Roth and later Sammy Haggar were. But a great band it was.


Shifting this thought to coaching football. Is it best to have your play callers also as head coach, or should the head coach be the CEO and delegate play calling to the offensive and defensive coordinators? The former would be the head coaches of the Rams and Cowboys who both call the offensive plays for their teams. The latter would be the coach of the Steelers who delegates play calls on both sides of the ball.


Take it a step further. If you are great at event planning and operations, can you also be the Executive Director of your organization at the same time? Or SHOULD you play both roles to optimize your organization’s success?


I can tell you that a couple times in my career journey, I ended up in positions that were not my core competency. I’m not talking about the “Peter Principle” here, I think I was competent in each position along the way. However, things evolved to a place where I was doing a lot more as an administrator and not working within the areas that I’d traditionally thrived. This in turn, could have put my organization at a competitive disadvantage. Maybe it did or maybe it didn’t. The thought here is that if you have A+ players in a certain area, isn’t it best to keep them in that realm and build around that?


Look around your organization. Who is great in the seat they are in? Who could be even greater in a different spot? Where are you most effective?


Get great people. Build a spectacular structure. Put your players in a position within that structure where they can thrive. Including yourself.


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