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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Resourcefulness: The New Meta Competency


photo credit: Thompson Rivers via photopin cc

Yesterday, I blogged about leadership and the idea of “Top Grading.” It’s the title of a book that Bradford Smart wrote in 2005. It is full of insights on how to hire, develop and keep “A” players on your team.  A quick summary of the value of “A” players is:

  • You don’t save money by settling for low-quality hiring and fixed pay scales.
  • Instead, you should focus on the value “A” players bring to their roles.
  • Having a team of “A” players makes your job easier and more fun.
  • Having a team of “A” players helps your organization succeed faster.
  • Consider the true cost of weak performance and having to replace failure.
  • The cost of hiring failure is calculated at 15 X base salary (opportunity cost).

Resourcefulness is Key

Today, I want to focus on a major concept that Bradford Smart brings up in the book. Smart says that resourcefulness is the new “meta” competency in team members. Think about it. Because information is ubiquitous, you no longer need people who know a lot. Information is readily available. You can search and find answers to almost any problem if you know where to look. That’s why the virtue of “resourcefulness” is now the most important skill to find and hire. I’m speaking of team members who know how to find answers; ones who can identify and solve problems because they can find solutions far beyond the walls of your workplace. Resourceful team members:

  • Can comprehend the key problems that slow down progress.
  • Search for and find ideas they can connect to those problems.
  • Are able to develop a series of solutions to the problems.
  • Have the ability to modify and implement the best solutions.

These are the kind of team members we are hiring at Growing Leaders. We have both seasoned veterans and young team members who possess this skill. They are resourceful as they connect ideas, create new systems, and find ideas others have used somewhere else, then tweak them for our organization. They are priceless.

One additional thought. As I review this key virtue with our leadership team, I am reminded of one more valuable commodity. In addition to resourcefulness, I believe the competency of resilience is key as well. The speed and convenience that mark our culture have diminished the virtue of resilience. People give up too easily. We don’t like problems that take too long or require too much effort to solve.

So, with every new team member, look for resourcefulness and resilience. When you find them, hire them.


  1. Antone on March 27, 2013 at 7:40 am

    WOW – powerful post today. As educators, we must come to grips with the fact that our “value” does not lie anymore in just knowing our content. That simply makes us content experts. And a content expert does not imply engaging teaching skills. We are in desperate need of a paradigm shift, one that leads to different conclusions than what was given to us through the Industrial Revolution – mass production of the same looking type of student. Today’s environment is about connection – connection with people and information for bigger and more powerful ideas that create meaning and add value. It is almost like you have to get rid of the current idea of education and start anew with asking “what do our students need TODAY in order to flourish?” Totally agree, Tim. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

    • Tim Elmore on March 27, 2013 at 11:19 am

      Thanks, Antone. That is the true spirit of resilience!

  2. Amy Hunt on March 28, 2013 at 6:28 am

    State requirements in public schools (NYS) require teaching to the test and this can be frustrating as I watch children become robots and totally not engaged and self motivated Learners. This post supports so much of why we are considering homeschool. As a professional, I see the value of this type of thinking and agree in hiring for it.

    • Tim Elmore on March 28, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Thanks for the comment, Amy. There is power in schools that strengthen students’ ability to problem solve.

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Resourcefulness: The New Meta Competency