The five-tool employee
"The five-tool employee" was originally posted on July 26, 2008.
Over the years, I've spoken to a lot of people about career paths. Most people are usually exploring the "what if" possibilities of a job switch and not ready to actually put some money on the table to make things happen. There's nothing wrong with that - sometimes, what someone really needs is a vacation. Or a hobby, like gardening or video games. Or an open ear for venting.
But then there are the people who are ready to change. And the ones I want to work with are the five-tool players. In fact, I think every hiring manager wants these players, whether it's a role in a startup or a Fortune 50 organization. You see, in baseball a five-tool player is someone who can hit for average, hit for power, run the bases shrewdly and quickly, throw, and field.
In a corporation, the five-tool employee is one who:
1) gets things done with results to show for their effort - no excuses for failure
2) accomplishes things that are remarkable - above and beyond what's expected
3) exercises sound decision-making skills, acting quickly and decisively
4) communicates well and can convince others to act
5) deals well with ambiguity, makes order where others see confusion
Let's take this analogy further. Baseball's five-tool players are most often outfielders, sometimes infielders, and almost never catchers or pitchers. Likewise, corporate five-tool employees are most often in management, strategy, and marketing roles, can be found in IT and finance, but rarely appear in other areas.
If you're looking, or looking to hire - think about the tools you possess or want to have on staff. The five-tool employee is difficult to find and worth retaining once on board...and will have many chances to succeed, because they naturally create value for their companies and opportunities for themselves.