The NFL has 32 teams. Each team has a head coach. At any time four or five head coaches are in a league of their own. Another ten to twelve are decent with some potential. The rest, to borrow a phrase from Dave Ramsey, “fake it to make it.”
That’s hard to believe. With only 32 teams and roughly a hundred million people in the age range to be a head coach in the country, you’d think there might be enough talent for each team to have an outstanding head coach. But there’s not. Or, if there is, they’re just not finding their way to those head coaching positions.
Either way, the point is that top shelf coaching talent is thin. Only 15% of head coaches are outstanding and that’s in a league that artificially limits the number of teams.
In the more competitive world of business it’s safe to assume that outstanding management talent is thinner. I guess that 5% to 10%, or less, of management in any given industry is outstanding. Another 20% – 30% are decent. The other 60% – 75% are there for whatever reason – politics, entrenched, better than the rest, luck – but most of those fake it to make it.
What I described is nothing more than what statisticians call the normal distribution. In any system there are those close to average and there are outliers on one end or another.
Outstanding managers know this and manage with it in mind. They purposefully churn talent in their teams to let the outstanding people rise to the top. But, that only happens in 10-15% or less of organizations.
The rest churn the not-so-outstanding people and often chase away the outstanding people, because they fake it to make it.