What Makes The A-Team Tick?

►What Makes The “A-Team” Tick?◄



Our January 27, 2019 Proven Solution entitled, “Best Contributors For Business Growth” is what has led us to this Proven Solution about A-Teams.  The earlier article led 2 enterprises to seek our assistance in determining precisely who their change agent executives are while also being capable of driving enterprise transformation during the next 2 to 3 years of rapid growth and/or reinvention.  One of the enterprises is based in Paris and the other is based near San Francisco.

Within 90 days it has become clear to them and also to us that who they thought their A-Team was had about 40% correlation with what and who their A-Team needs to be.  The resulting conclusions for both CEO’s and a few Board members have been:

  • It does not take long to get to the lighted end of this usually dark future creation cave, and
  • Subconscious blinders tend to prevent accurate recognition of who true A-Team players are to a degree of approximately 60%.

And in the cases of the 2 client enterprises everybody won because nobody is now thought less of…or is leaving.


The “A-Team” is the fairly small group of executives that is charged with organizationally engineering the future of the enterprise vis-à-vis its intended markets and financial performance growth.

If where your enterprise is headed happens to be where it has already been AND your enterprise has created exceptional brand and financial results all along that prior path, your A-Team for the future is likely its A-Team as currently assumed.

To the contrary and as we have now observed for more than 20 years if where you are going is not where you have already been, a new A-Team DNA is required at a fundamental level because what brought you to where you are is not what will transport you to where you need to go.  Your current A-Team is likely rather amorphous for future enterprise success creation purposes.


What we have observed for more than 2 decades has again been affirmed by our 2 most recent A-Team determination engagements referenced above.

Included below are 11 of the 21 common threads weaving through A-Team executives capable of leading their businesses into a changed and improved future without delay or error.  These capabilities are required of any individuals thought correctly to be “A-Players” and they are essential for any A-Team members charged with leading your enterprise to magnificently improved business outcomes in the near term.  “B”- and “C”-Team members while very important possess differing capabilities not closely related to enterprise transformations.

The order of importance of these A-Team member capabilities varies from country to country, enterprise to enterprise, and industry to industry:

  • They have clearly evident hybrid capabilities and are not limited to just one field of endeavor during the last 25 years or more. The CFO has also been a Director of Marketing, The Supply Chain Director has also been a Human Resources Director, the Chief Marketing Officer has also been a Vice President of Compliance, the Vice President of Human Resources has also been a Division President, and the Chief of Medicine has also been an Anesthesiologist, as examples.
  • They minimize differences among people at work rather than maximize differences between people and are never distracted by fad topics espoused by special interests and first-time purported experts.
  • Their motive for working is the same as the reason for the existence of the enterprise. In other words, their identity is what the enterprise will be in the near term and not where or when they will retire, as only one example.
  • They do not “need their space”. They enjoy all interactions with everybody including strangers, vendors, employees, customers, regulators, executives, owners, investors, shareholders and competitors.
  • They maintain a laser focus on goals and simplified collective objectives for all employees they lead.  In other words, they eliminate distractions.  Everything through yesterday is behind them and this evidences that they focus nearly entirely on the future of the business.
  • They think and talk continually about owner and shareholder interests, followed closely by customer interests.
  • Anything new during the last 3 years that they have needed to learn in terms of the business has been learned by them in 2 minutes to 2 weeks, while being retained permanently.
  • They consistently ask questions to learn and to connect with people having greater expertise than themselves. The last time they asked a question to challenge someone was only in a case of massive failure.
  • They prevent or end conflicts, problems and roadblocks productively and rapidly.
  • When observed, if they were a dog they would be wagging their tail most of the time.
  • They volunteer for just about anything. Whatever needs to be done right and in a hurry with no trail of destruction is always their enthusiasm subject.  They tend to wear it on their persona:



Knowing who the A-Team is tends to be fairly simple provided the enterprise is looking through its windshield rather than through its rear-view mirror as it is heading down the highway to its destination.  A-Team members are not hand-picked or anointed by capable leaders; they are self-evidenced in rather small numbers.  The A-Team is a mission; not a reward.

Most enterprises are about 40% correct as to who their A-Team is and needs to be, and our clients around the world have found that usually between 75% and 80% of their necessary A-Team members are currently employed by them.  That generally distills to a 35% to 60% challenge based upon hard data within real enterprises that we have witnessed for decades.

As we have guided our clients on this crucial subject over the years a number of highly capable executives in several countries have wondered aloud with us whether they have mistakenly defined their A-Team as having too many usually anointed members.  And in those cases, yes, there has been no need for an A-Team of 14 to 38 members within those large enterprises.

You see, excessively large A-Teams charged with creating the future tend to be excessively conflicted, ineffective, internally competitive, and/or slow.

…but the future for victorious enterprises is approaching too fast for any of that.



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