Marcus Mariota built an impressive career in college football, winning the Heisman Trophy, among other honors. In 2015, he was the second overall draft pick, right behind Jameis Winston. With the Tennessee Titans, he became the first NFL quarterback in history, and the youngest, to get a perfect passer rating in his first regular season game and the first to throw four touchdown passes in the first half of his debut. I could go on. Mariota’s career is really going places.
Or is it? Mariota has a lot of talent, but talent isn’t always enough.
To reach his full potential, Marcus Mariota will need time and support to develop, as well as a strong team around him, particularly a good offensive line. We find the same thing in business. When you have a promising young star, there are a few steps you have to take to help them make the most of his or her ability.
1. Build Slow
You don’t need to tell the new guy everything all at once; don’t throw up on your star (or anyone!). Take people along slowly so they have time to assimilate the new information and ideas. See my personal blog (turn down the fire hose), for more on the same idea. Don’t expect people to reach their full potential right from the beginning, either—Mariota needs time to mature, and so does your talented new hire.
2. Build Talent in the Team
You know what they say; a quarterback is only as good as the talent around him. You can’t rely on one star performer to make up for weaknesses elsewhere in the team. In fact, if you have someone of extraordinary talent, that means you have to make sure the rest of the team is that much better or your star can’t shine.
3. Build a Strong Offensive Line
There will be roadblocks, issues, bad customers—you don’t need to coddle anybody, but you do need to make sure your developing talent doesn’t get bogged down or burned out by the headaches and ugliness that can come up. Just like Mariota will need a strong offensive line. It’s no good being a great quarterback if you spend all your time underneath a pile of opposing players.
4. Build a Strong Support Structure
Marcus Mariota will need good leadership–veteran players, good coaches, help from various professionals and specialists in order to do his best. Your star is the same way. Your job is to provide strong, consistent management, educational opportunities, and a chance to connect with experienced people in your industry.
Does This Sound Like a Lot of Work?
Your team will win or lose on a combination of talent and teamwork. For one part of that equation to achieve its potential, the other half has to be top-notch as well. It’s a lot to pay attention to—but it’s what winning NFL teams do.
Image of Marcus Mariota taken by Christopher Hanewinckel via Wikimedia Commons