Part 2: Why you should run your startup like a sports team

by Jeff Hilimire on March 18, 2014

In Part 1: Why you should run your startup like a sports team, I talked about the importance of having a Common Goal and how that applies to both startups and sports teams.

Part 2: Put the right person in the right position at the right time

This is a mantra that one of my mentors emphasized to me over and over while I was running Engauge. If I had to isolate one skill that a successful leader of a startup must have, it would probably be this one.

The coach of a sports team is always trying to make sure she has the right type of players for her system. Then she has to assess what position those players should be playing at any given time. Is the player more of a defensive-minded one? Is she more aggressive? Should these two players be on the court at the same time or should they never be on the court at the same time?

And the answers to those questions could be very different depending on who the opponent is and what the stakes are. Some players perform better under pressure. Some when there is a big lead. Some when the crowds are loud and some when they’re more timid. Startups are no different from that perspective.

Because a startup is much like a sports team in both size (small) and focus (common goal), a startup leader must ask similar questions:

~ Is this team member the right culture fit or the right fit for the goals we are trying to accomplish?

~ Am I using this team member in the best way to maximize their impact on the company?

~ Which team members should be working together? Which team members compliment each other the most?  The least?

~ Based on our current objectives, should I realign which team members are in which position?

~ Has anything changed in the last quarter that requires me to reassess any of this?

Just like in sports, if a startup has great people but has them in the wrong position, they will surely fail.

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