Greatest Players or Greatest Coach?

Kevin Ryan, the CEO of Gilt Groupe, came into Betaworks today for the monthly brown bag lunch. These lunch talks are a real treat and one of the many cool things we get exposed to at Betaworks.

Mr Ryan is nothing short of impressive. The hour he spent with us was laden with one useful suggestion after the other. Most of us dream of having one hit in our entrepreneurial lives, this guy has had several.

He said one thing today that really stood out. He talked about finding great people and building teams. He made the point that, if you looked at a sports team (I think he referred to the Knicks), we’d all agree that we’d want to have the greatest players on the team vs a great coach.

I get the point he was making as the CEO. Sure, you value the people you bring in and ultimately it’s them that make your company a success. Maybe he was being a bit humble. Maybe he really believes that’s true.

I think you need the best people you can get. Pay them well. Give them everything they need to do an amazing job. But they still need to be led. Not in a, “you’re clueless and I have all the answers,” type of leadership. But the right kind. A team, as good as the individuals are, need a strong leader to be just as good at his or her job as they are at theirs.

In my opinion, you need the great players and you need a great coach. Anything less and your odds of success are compromised.