In the NFL, there are typically 2 schools of thought when it comes to developing quarterbacks. Followers of the first theory, which I will call the “play now” approach, believe the best way to develop a quarterback is to throw him onto the field his rookie season. On the other hand, there are those who believe in a “sit and learn” approach which allows a first-year quarterback to take it all in from the sideline, learning from the veteran QB in front of him. At Dinte, we believe these two approaches present valuable lessons to business leaders as they look to develop future talent within their organizations.
History has proven both approaches can produce successful leaders. Unfortunately, it has also proven both approaches can produce utter failures. The “play now” approach has produced stars like Peyton Manning and letdowns like Ryan Leaf. On the other hand, the “sit and learn” school of thought has produced graduates like Aaron Rodgers and drop-outs such as Rex Grossman (Sorry Redskins fans!).
So now to the million dollar question: which approach is right for your organization? To answer that, let’s take a closer look at each approach.
With the “play now” approach, your “rookie” will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact on the organization. As exciting as that may sound, this approach has the ability to ruin your rookie’s confidence and credibility within the organization if he or she isn’t immediately successful. Therefore, it is critical that this individual be able to handle intense pressure and scrutiny. Furthermore, the organization will need to exhibit patience as this individual is sure to make a few mistakes along his or her path of development.
In contrast, the “sit and learn” approach will give your rookie a chance to observe from the sideline and learn from your veteran quarterback. This grants the individual the opportunity to learn the position and make mistakes under far less pressure and scrutiny. However, with this approach the individual runs the risk of never getting the opportunity to “shine under the bright lights” until it’s too late.
As you begin to develop your own leadership development strategy, start by assessing the talent within your organization. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of each individual. Figure out what their goals are as it relates to the organization. More importantly, gain an understanding of how these individuals learn in order to maximize their potential. Obviously, the “play now” approach wouldn’t be appropriate for an individual who learns by watching others.
Lastly, determine the resources available within your organization. Identify those “veteran quarterbacks” who will be responsible for developing these rookies. Furthermore, determine how much time this individual will have to “get up to speed.” Clearly, the “sit and learn” theory wouldn’t make sense for an organization with an immediate need.