Business leaders, in their zeal to succeed, often focus on finding a specialist candidate. These are rock star professionals who are better than anyone in the industry at what they do. Often the specialist does one thing or focuses on but one industry, but they can do it exceptionally well.
But there is another kind of performer who may be even more valuable to your business; the generalist.
By way of explaining the generalist, let me tell you a little bit about one of my childhood idols, the great Lenny Moore, also known as “The Reading (Pennsylvania) Rocket.” Lenny played professional football in the 1950s and 60s as a key member of Johnny Unitas’s Baltimore Colts of the old National Football League.
Many people remember Lenny as a running back. To this day he holds the NFL record for the most touchdown runs of 50 yards or more. His touchdown streak of 18-straight games is still the longest ever for a running back (though it has since been tied). Moore averaged more than seven yards per carry in three different seasons.
The great Jim Brown never did that even once.
So why isn’t Lenny more respected? Instead of being a stats complier for his own benefit, he was a team player who filled in wherever his coach asked him. He spent half of his career playing receiver where he was also one of the greatest the league has ever seen.
Lenny averaged 16.6 yards per reception for his career, or about two yards more for every single catch than Jerry Rice had, though the 49’er is widely acclaimed as the greatest of all time.
Moore was a consummate winner and team player. In his career, he helped the Colts go to three championship games and win two of them, including the “Greatest Game Ever Played” in 1958. Lenny helped bring that victory home by throwing the key block that allowed Alan Ameche, his teammate, to score the winning touchdown in overtime.
Moore was chosen for seven Pro Bowls, named All-Pro five times, and he was chosen as a member of the NFL’s all-time team.
If Moore is somewhat overlooked in history, it’s because football fans make the same mistake many business people do. They focus on a specialist to the exclusion of a generalist who can do whatever the team requires and do it well.
Like Lenny Moore, the generalist can take a business team that is mildly successful and make it transcendent, a winner at the highest levels. A strong generalist makes everyone else on the team better. Larry Bird is another strong example, a great shooter who was also a devastating rebounder and deadly passer who assisted his teammates to glory.
The Lenny Moores and Larry Birds of the world are the rarest gems, the pieces of the puzzle who complete the picture but who are the most difficult to unearth. Most people don’t even know they should be looking for them.
At Durakis Executive Search, we also like to think of ourselves as great generalists. We have the skills, experience, knowledge, network, and much more to find and present just the right candidate options in any industry.
Give us a call today and let us show you the value of a firm that can do many things well in finding the right talent and culture fit for you.