Creating "A" Players... in a Tired-Cranky-Covid-Environment

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

During my last 4 coaching calls with executive clients, each leader told me stories about how their people were getting tired and their leaders were spending increasing amounts of time navigating people and conflict issues!

COVID-19 uncertainty is wearing people down and without get-away-holidays to refresh the soul some people are showing interesting symptoms. How do we help them rebound? How do we help our team get back up? What's the remedy?

Listening more?... yes. Putting out people fires?... yes, but we are already doing these things. What new, next process could help refresh our people and get them through this extended COVID craziness?

After playing many seasons in this world (on and off the ice), many of them revolving around high performance teams, organizations and businesses, I have noticed the following tendency when coaches and leaders become tired:

When coaching players (people) over the long run, many of us tend to increasingly focus on finding faults and noticing things that disappoint. Suddenly, through tired eyes, the grass looks greener over there, and we wish that we could have those other players from that other team. From a distance, they look better; they look more energized; they seem more mature; they seem to be handling Covid better than my people.

Here’s a fresh idea to try to minimize that tendency. In their fine book, The Art of Possibility, Rosamund and Benjamin Zander suggest that most people compare their lot in life to that of other people. They point out that even the system for grading in school says little about the mastery of the material. Its main purpose is rather to compare one student against another. The Zanders then ask an important and controversial question: “What if we started people with an 'A'.?What if we gave everyone an 'A'?”

Michelangelo suggested a new way to approach old work. He recommended that inside every block of stone or marble dwells a beautiful statue; one need only remove the excess material to reveal the work of art within.

The Zanders first applied this visionary concept to education, suggesting it would be pointless to compare one child to another (or one player to the other). Instead, all the energy would be focused on chipping away at the stone, getting rid of whatever is in the way of each child’s developing skills, mastery, and self-expression.

The Zanders call this practice giving an “A.”

As always, during our blog/e-newsletters we focus less on blaming other people (hop