Improved Leadership. Competitive Advantage.

Do you know who Randy Moss is? He was an incredible football player. Bursting on to the scene in 1998, he’s best known for his performance with the Minnesota Vikings and also the New England Patriots. With 14 seasons under his belt, he owns the NFL single-season touchdown reception record (23 in 2007) along with the NFL regular season touchdown reception list of 156. He was good—very good—very, very, good. But, he was never great. Randy Moss could never win the Super Bowl. And the reason is: he took plays off. On occasion, he didn’t give it his all. He’d catch. But, he didn’t like to block much. And, every now and then, he just wouldn’t even try. So much so, that the best receiver in NFL history, Jerry Rice, called him out arguing to the media that he, unlike Randy Moss, never, ever took a play off.

We apologize in advance for bringing in football at a time when baseball, the Belmont, and, even, Dancing with the Stars is at play. But, the truth of the matter is that some players, some people, some employees don’t give it their all. Or, in football parlance, they take plays off. This is consistent with the research on Human Capital. Employees own their own Human Capital and can choose to deploy it on behalf of the team or not. Strong leaders, those known as people developers, tend to get the most out of their people. They get close to 100% of effort and ability. Those leaders that aren’t people developers tend to get a zombie bunch—an employee sample that works to 60 or 70% of their ability.

Some leading sports psychologists suggest Moss’s inability to reach the pinnacle has less to do with him and more to do with fact that he never had a great leader to develop him (Bill Belichick got him late in his career). Reflect for a second—do you get the most out of your people? 100%, 90%, or 50%? Do people ‘play’ hard for you? Or, do subordinate leaders and employees take plays off under you? Do people want to work for you because you’ll challenge them and make them better? Or do they want to work for you knowing that they can skate by? If good people are scrambling to volunteer to work for you, then you probably earned a reputation as a people developer. If good people, on the contrary, are wishing to leave or are voting with their feet and jumping ship, then, chances are, you might not be developing people as much as you could.

Here are six specifics that we’d ask that you reflect on, and we borrow—or shamelessly steal from—the iconic Jeff Foxworthy.

  • You may not be a people developer if you think that development is sending your subordinate leaders to a course and thinking that development just magically occurs.
  • You may be a people developer if you provide challenging and stretch tasks and assignments to your team and mentor them through it.
  • You may not be a people developer if you are so results-driven that you embrace a tactical mindset of, “What can this person provide me now?”
  • You may be a people developer if you develop compelling, long-range career and personal development plans to make your team better.
  • You may not be a people developer if your employees or subordinate leaders see their time with you as a just a job to do.
  • You may be a people developer if your employees see their time with you as a profession or calling.

These are just some leadership dos and don’ts that we toss your way. At ELP, we firmly put a stake in the ground here—we are people developers. To learn more about our process and to help ensure you get 100% out of your subordinate leaders or your anyone on your team, we strongly suggest that you reach out to one of ELP’s principals and co-founders and a renowned expert on leader development, Robin Bichy. Email her at