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The 5 Tool Manager

In baseball, and I promise this post isn't about baseball, there are generally considered to be 5 tools that players may possess. The greatest player of all time, Willie Mays, had all 5 tools in abundance. That is exceedingly rare. That's why he's the best. Some players specialize (like Pitchers) and are exceptional with only one tool. Most great players have a few tools they excel in, with gaps.

I won't bore you with the details and I also don't proclaim to be an academic in this subject, or particularly well read in contemporary literature (my kids are waaaaay too young for that), but I am a practitioner, so here are my five tools for managers, in no particular order:

  1. Ability to recruit excellent talent
  2. Ability to retain excellent talent
  3. Ability to communicate clearly
  4. Ability to prioritize
  5. Ability to make decision accurately

Leadership and vision are outputs of demonstrating these skills daily.

As a new manager, you will want to identify what you are best at. Where do you excel presently? As you seek new and larger mandates, you will need to address your weaknesses and try to develop excellence with all five tools, knowing that you will always have strengths and weaknesses.

If you have a weakness, finding folks in your company (both direct reports and peers) to lean on, learn from and shore up where you are weak.

Like on a baseball team, not everyone is excellent at all 5 tools, but any manager should bring appreciable quantities of at least one tool and the growth mindset to develop the other tools with the surrounding team members there to ensure every tool is being brought to bare to execute on the goals of the business.

What tools are missing? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Trent Krupp

Currently Head of Product at Impact, a market network serving the entertainment industry. Previously, Head of Revenue at Triplebyte and Hired. Founded an agency in my 20's, sold it to Hired and became employee 5. Recruited for Atomic (VC), Credit Sesame and MakerSights. Helped the founders of recruitment tech startups Shift.org, Terminal and Beacon in the early days.

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