Friday, December 12, 2008

B Bashing

"B-Level leadership teams will not deliver A-level results."

Jeffrey L. Bradach, Thomas J. Tierney, and Nan Stone, "Delivering on the Promise of Nonprofits, Harvard Business Review, December 2008.

In my original draft of Nonprofit Leadership I used the notion of B team in a different way -- as those unheralded folks in the middle of organizations who do a lot of the work, don't always get much credit, and are an important resource for new leadership.

This topic was important to me because I found that most leadership books always addressed the superstars or tried to convince the rest of us that we should become just like the superstars. In short, many of these books and articles were irrevevant.

People who read the draft didn't like the B team idea. They couldn't get away from the hierarchy thing, of A being better than B. Some even questioned whether the B team was a part of the problem.

So I switched to a sports metaphor. I fashioned myself as a consistent hitter of singles rather than a prolific homerun hitter. This allowed me to contrast different contributions that were equally of value to the team.


Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA said...

I always thought of it as working with the "middle 50." The middle of the standard curve of distribution - stars at top, slugs at bottom - and, the middle 50 keeping the entire place moving in the right direction

Bob Giloth said...

I like the notion of "middle 50;" it gets away from the A and B hierarchy. Still, there is a lot of "middle" bashing" -- and not much leadership literature devoted to them.