The NFL Draft is my favorite part of football season. The NFL actually behaves like we in business only pretend to behave.
The NFL places the highest premium on talent. Really. And they make scouting for talent a high form of art. The team with the very worst record of the prior year gets to choose first in the draft because the NFL correctly believes that their performance will be improved with better talent.
The players with the most talent and a proven ability to deliver results are paid the most. Even though all are paid handsomely, those that aren’t as talented or who aren’t as responsible for producing the results—namely winning games—are paid far less.
A Round One Choice
To be picked in the first round of the NFL draft means that you are considered the very best possible talent available. The 32 teams each get one first round draft pick, and they select the player that they believe will have the greatest impact on their results in the coming season.
To be a first round pick, the team choosing you has to have the utmost confidence that you are going to deliver. They have to believe that of all of the talent available, you are the very best choice. And they are willing to pay you at the highest end of the salary range. To be chosen in the first round also means that they fear you going to play for a competitor.
There are two stakeholder groups that care deeply about your performance: your company and your clients.
If your company had to choose their talent from what is available to them, would you be the first person that they decided to keep? Are you still a first round pick? How uncomfortable does it make you to think about being judged this way?
Your prospects are choosing a partner that they believe will make the greatest difference to their results. They are choosing someone to act as part of their management team. Are you their first round draft choice? Are you worth paying more to obtain?
A Note for Hiring Managers
Most of us could stand to learn a thing or two from the NFL when it comes to selecting and hiring talent.
They study the talent that is available to them and make a list of the players that they really want long before the draft. As a hiring manager, you need to know which players are available—or soon will be—and keep a list of those you want for your team.
They make tough trade-offs to acquire the talent that they really need, including trading two or more players and money for the choice of a game-changer that will help them produce a winning season. They pay what they need to pay for the results that they need. As a hiring manager, you need to make trade-offs and you need to pay accordingly for the talent you need to produce the results you are being asked to produce.
They treat talent like the something special that it is. And they treat players with the ability to lead a team like they are the most special talent of all. You may be hiring a salesperson, but those with the ability to lead are more valuable to your organization. Act accordingly and look for leadership.
As a final note, talent is a funny thing. Sometimes even the NFL football franchises can get it wrong. Tom Brady was taken in the 6th round of the 2000 draft. That means 32 teams passed him over in the prior 5 rounds, believing that there were much more talented players available.
If there were a draft, in what round would you be picked?
What would you have to do to get picked in an earlier round?
As a company leader, would your company be your prospective talent’s first choice? Are you a first round draft picks first choice?
Do unrelentingly chase talent to add to your team? Or are you merely hiring?
Is the best talent treated as such?