A Players Will Leave

Characteristics of an A Player:

  • Competent at what they do and delivers desired results consistently
  • Understands that leadership is action not position
  • Highly emotionally intelligent and therefore someone that is sought after for practical and otherwise advice
  • Proactively seeks to add value in undirected ways
  • Positive attitude and an ambassador of the desired culture
  • Holds himself/herself accountable

There are other characteristics and always ones that are specific to a job, but these are the foundational ones to me.

Now, have you ever lost someone like this?  Ever worked with someone that left you behind to take on “bigger and better” things?

Losing A Players slows down productivity, beats down morale and takes a chunk out of the bottom line.  And often enough starts a trickle down resulting in losing more A Players. Go a layer deeper only to find clients wondering why you can’t hold on to good employees.  Result…You could lose clients too.  No bueno.

But, completely avoidable in many instances…if not all.

Maybe not tomorrow.  Maybe not next week.  Or even next month or year.  But if you don’t pay close attention to what is right in front of you, eventually some of your best employees will roll out.

I spend many of my days pushing leaders and managers of companies to be more engaging, understand what it is to actually lead employees, how to build “A Teams”, and how to build a culture that avoids the above from happening.

Unfortunately what I find is that in many cases the below is happening…

~ A good employee left and the leaders of the organization bad mouthed and devalued them publically after they left. (This is crap…why didn’t they fire them if they were so bad…brilliant!)

~ Leaders are working in silos and not connected to their employees.

~ Leaders are taking A players for granted and think they don’t need or want feedback or accolades.

~ Leaders are not holding the line on company values.

~ Leaders are not getting rid of C players…the employees with bad attitudes, that are not respectful, that push work to others constantly, and that always point the finger.  A players are looking to you to take care of “issues” and when you don’t your credibility as a leader declines swiftly.

~ Back to my T.I.M.E acronym for leadership (Check that post out if you have not)…TRUST is not being built.  INTENT does not seem to be about the employee, but rather self serving.  We are not coaching employees to realize the deeper MEANING behind wanting to grow the company or what is in it for them.  And we don’t notice that the A player is not in a good place…we are not being EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT.

Instead of sounding redundant and listing things you should be doing I will simply say reread the above and think about how it pertains to you.  Be real with yourself and WAKE UP.

We have heard it many times over that employees rarely leave for more money.  It’s true.  As a matter of fact, rarely do employees seek different employment if much of the above is avoided.

Bottom line is great employees want to feel valued.  They want to feel paid attention to.  Recently, I sat with an A player that was leaving a client and the reasoning shook my core.  She said, the culture was volatile and that “It would have been nice if someone simply asked how things were going”.  Really?  That simple?  Yes, that simple.  Engage your employees and monitor your culture.

I will note that I sit with many A players and when they articulate dissatisfaction I usually ask why they are still working at the respective company.  The responses usually are riddled with insecurity that they won’t be able to find a good job (Again, refer back to Wave the White Flag post), sometimes simply not feeling like looking for a new gig, or they have “flexibility” in their current job.  I point this out to say, don’t sit back in your chair thinking that people have not left because they are happy or some survey you sent out came back with great results (These results are almost always skewed).  Don’t make assumptions.  If you related to the above, despite what that survey said, you will be blindsided.  Eventually A players hit a threshold, throw some energy at looking for a new gig and BAM!  They find a new gig quickly.  Paying the same or more money.  Under the direction of a smart and inspirational leader.  And wouldn’t you know it, providing them the same flexibility.

Finally, I am not recommending that you micro manage but I am saying to stop wearing that badge of honor on your sleeve that proudly states “I am not a micromanager”….this mindset prohibits deeper engagement and sustaining A teams.  Let me explain this quickly.  Have you ever asked somebody what their management style is and they answered “I know that I AM NOT a micromanager.”  Probe a little deeper and you get nothing.  So what do they do other than leave their employees alone?  Right, that person loses A players.

In other words, don’t stare over someone’s shoulders but do high five someone, listen intently, pay attention to the energy in your building, follow up on things you asked someone to do, and engage people at every corner.

My clients and I are working on building sustainable A teams…don’t make it easy for us to take your A players 🙂


Stay True,



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One thoughtful comment

  1. As always, well said, my friend. As you well know, I am the epitome of this topic. It is certainly important for workers to remain because of something that is meaningful to them, such as great company values, or they feel a sense of belonging by contributing at different levels. But ultimately, the inherent need for an individual is to feel accomplishment and a higher purpose by seeking other opportunities. I’m not suggesting that everyone jump ship; but if a business was truly in tune with their direct reports, they would help create that opportunity for accomplishment in many different ways. It’s not any different than watching the boys play with their toys. They probably take great pride in the creations they’ve made with their PlayDoh. Try throwing some markers, construction paper, glue, glitter, feathers, googly eyes, and toothpicks at them and watch how quickly they dive in to create a masterpiece! …you know exactly what I’m saying because you are an amazing dad! So if I could add some inspiration to your message, I’d say, spread your wings…see how far you can fly…don’t fear the fall…the wind will catch you.

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