Find Your Most Valuable Players

There is a select group of people responsible for your success. I call them your Most Valuable Players (MVPs). They are powerful in the tr
November 17, 2010

There is a select group of people responsible for your success. I call them your Most Valuable Players (MVPs).

They are powerful in the truest sense of the word -- they have the power to make you a success, and therefore they deserve your attention and respect. Your MVPs will midwife the future you are working hard to realize.


In sports, an MVP is often isolated from the team, recognized for prowess and performance that goes beyond team playing and exceptional individual achievement. But, your MVPs include every person of influence and anyone who plays for your cause.


Make no mistake: all business success depends on people. The action people take is the performance that makes things happen. Your MVPs are human beings; blood and guts; hearts, minds, and hands. If you treat them respectfully and appropriately, you will increase the already powerful impact they wield: their ability to wring results from an uncertain future.


Who are these MVPs and what really are they good for? 


  • They are the evangelists who spread the word about your business and bring customers in far and wide.
  • They are the thinking partners who collaborate with you and help find solutions to your toughest problems.
  • They are innovators who give you ideas for new products and services.
  • They are mentors who have been down the road before you and can shave time off your learning curve so you can get ahead faster.
  • They are the avant garde carving out new territories you can mine.
  • They are the business partners who can work together with you to open up new ground, give you access to new markets, and raise your visibility in the marketplace.
  • They are even the detractors and competitors who develop your marketplace, point out your weak spots, and help you to become robust through challenging and provoking you.
  • They are policy makers uniquely positioned to influence your market.
  • They are employees who can make or break your success through day-to-day operations.
  • And, of course, they are your customers who pay for your services and decide how active they want to be in helping you do a better job.

Some of your MVPs will emerge completely unsolicited. You may never even meet them. Instead, you will hear about them far outside your own sphere of action. When your success travels far and wide, outpacing you, this is the case. However, this does not obviate the need for VIP attention to members of this special crew. 


Sit down with a piece of paper and go through the list above and name names. Never forget that each MVP is a unique person. Don't just write down their role. Go ahead and identify the individual who fills the role. When you review your list you should have names so you can think about  personality, circumstances, preferences and dislikes, and each person's unique assets. 


Activating your MVPs

Many MVPs can be turned on like a light bulb. By that, I mean they are dormant until you come along with an invitation to be part of something special. If you make it possible for them to contribute in ways that are meaningful to them, you may observe someone who appears dull and lifeless suddenly perk up and become engaged. This is because many people are trapped in uninteresting, lackluster jobs or situations that have worn them down. Engaging them by simply inviting them to give more and get more for themselves in the process awakens them.


Other MVPs are already high performers and latch on to great new ideas because that is their way. They pick up whatever innovations make sense, anything that helps raise the bar on performance, or anything that is part of a greater cause they support.


To reach the high performers, hang out where they congregate, publish in news media they pay attention to, and send the word out through their social networks. If you know in advance who they are, extend a direct invitation—face-to-face preferably. Voice-to-voice is the next best choice. Then follows all electronic correspondence.


Here are three techniques you can use to activate MVPs:


1.  Issue a challenge. High performers respond to high goals and extraordinary opportunity. Articulate the big wins you are shooting for and invite candidates to consider leading the pack.


2.  Make becoming an MVP a professional development opportunity for your employees. Participation as an MVP is an ideal way for people to demonstrate competency, command, and results and thereby stand out from the crowd.


3.  Generate magnetism in the marketplace to pull people toward you. When you publicize your efforts through presentations, articles, videos and conversations, talk about your MVPs as an elite force taking advantage of a unique opportunity to excel. Make it clear to others that those who join you are among the best. 


Once people express an interest in helping out, you must provide them with everything they need to succeed. Just as specific tools are needed to do a particular job well, your MVPs need skills, information and relationships to make their work effective. Make every effort to equip them with the best you have to offer as their results can make all the difference in your success.


Seth Kahan is the author of the Washington Post bestseller, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out. He provides strategy consulting to business owners and mentoring to independent consultants.  More information can be found on his website,