If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it, you almost don’t have to manage them.”

Jack Welch


Each time I observe my brothers sit by their ‘Play Station’ and compete among themselves in the game of football, I notice the patience they have and emphasis they place on the selection of their team.  They take the same care when determining the formation they will play, taking time to put each player where they will function optimally for the team. This is precisely what happens in the global game of football, where coaches and team managers deploy their players in a tactical system that will help them win. Ever wondered why the goalkeeper does not leave the goal post to play center forward or attempt to score a goal?


People are not your most important asset. The right people are. – Jim Collins.

In the game of football, each player is positioned where they function best. In leadership, this is referred to; as Functional Placement. The coach has one significant responsibility, and that is to identify which position works best for each player. He critically observes the players to see which position will unleash the potential in the players. When coaches get this right ahead of the game, they are often able to relax and watch the match with high expectations of victory, all things being equal.

A good leader or manager thinks like a coach. They expect their teammates to deliver their best. They ensure that they position key people in roles that will allow them to execute effectively.  Human Resource managers perhaps are more particular about this; they go through the back-and-forth process of recruitment to select one candidate out of many applicants. The goal is to select the right fit for the role, to ensure the team’s excellent output. As Malcolm Forbes said, “Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired to do.”

Closer observation reveals that the hiring manager is looking for someone who has been trained to produce his or her best for the role. Let’s look at this from the perspective of the applicant. An individual who has trained himself to function in the advertised position defines the entire recruitment process. “You need to have a collaborative hiring process”, says Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder and visionary. When two jobs are advertised, how well are you able to determine which one you are best suited for?

As a leader, you need to engage in some introspection. The aim of this is to answer the following questions: What are my talents?  What do I do best?; In which area(s) am I demonstrably competent?

Most of the leaders we admire globally in the game of football, are people who have an awareness of self, and understand their capabilities and limitations. They identified their skillset and their position on the football field. Pele, Maradona, Messi, Ronaldo, among others, are undoubtedly some of the world’s best footballers because of Functional Placement.

As a leader, where do you function best?  When you know your area of play, you direct your energy accordingly.  Kojo Antwi produces his best with his romantic highlife tunes; Sarkodie rocks the stage with his fast-paced lyrical rap renditions; Tiger Wood’s energy is directed towards golf, Obama, governance.

This is applicable in almost every area of your life. When I interview job seekers for a role, I am quickly drawn to those who know their area of strength. It is much easier to assign these persons to fill a gap and see them excel because the organisation’s objectives synchronises with their skillset.

In a corporate organisation which is your preferred department?  Which role(s) can you see as the game-changer for you?  Can you shine in the Finance department in the same way you can in Administration? If you know where you function best, you do not trade roles for money. Rather, place more value on your area of strength, and keep developing yourself.

One overriding lesson here is that you cannot be everything. You need to define your niche and work at it. If you were to decide to be part of the body which part will that be?

The uniqueness of your area of strength brings a sparkle to your leadership as it lights up the team. You become the solution, the fit for the jigsaw.


“The smartest business decision you can make is to hire qualified people. Bringing the right people on board saves you thousands, and your business will run smoothly and efficiently.”-Brian Tracy


Classic writer and contributor of Economics Adam Smith alluded to this in his book ‘Wealth of Nations’ when he spoke about specialisation. The acclaimed father of Economics explained that when workers concentrate their efforts and skills at particular tasks, it leads to greater productivity. This enforces the need for ‘Division of Labor’, which suggests among others, that in corporate organizations, the various aspects of work should be separated into distinct tasks. This is the reason why as the leader of your firm, you do not have to do everything. You need to believe in the ability of your team to perform at their area of specialisation.

Leaders should take the pain to identify the strength of new hires and put them in the right departments. You should not be insecure when you are not able to perform some tasks. You cannot be everything at the same time; all you will achieve is a high level of stress. Instead, harness the potential of your team. Encourage each department and team player to do their best. Do not be driven to be the IT head, HR head and CEO at the same time.

I think one of the easiest ways to unearth your leadership is by identifying your unique gift and serving humanity with it. Do not starve your organisation, community or world with your gift. Operate in the area of your strength, you are the solution to the problem; the missing jigsaw.

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

1 Corinthians 12:17


Genevieve Pearl Duncan, MCILG

The author is a Full Member of Chartered Institute of Leadership and Governance, Ghana Chapter. She is also the branch sales and service manager of Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited A & C Mall Branch in Accra, Ghana.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *