Sprinter vs. Marathoner; Who do we choose for our teams?

Samuel Kamau Wanjiru from Kenya broke the Olympic record during 2008
Summer Olympics with a 2hr 6 min run of the 26 miles while at the same
time Usain Bolt from Jamaica broke both 100m and 200m sprints with 9.69s
and 19.30s. Both Usain and Samuel are phenomenal athletes of their
generation and are revered in their own runs. However, can Usain be
half as good as Samuel in running a marathon race or will Samuel give
Usain a run for his money in short distance runs? Everyone of you
probably will guess it right. Usain CANNOT be the best marathon runner
and Samuel CANNOT be the best sprinter. Why? Researchers have proven
that some are built to be sprinters while others are built to be
marathoners and then there are others in between. This is pretty much
true in our professional environment as well. There are employees who
perform their best in short bursts of projects while there are some who
can slog consistently through long projects.

Every team requires both sprinters and long distance runners. We need employees that bring
in tons of creative energy to work on either short term projects or get a
long term project going. However, we absolutely need consistent long
term performers to take on the project to the very end. Let me give
specific examples of job functions that have shown clear tendencies
towards sprinter or marathoner. Sales and marketing folks typically
have sprinter like qualities. They need tons of energy to break into a
customer or into a market and need that energy to energize the rest of
the team behind them. Project managers on the other hand tend to have
marathoner like qualities as they have to drive a project over the long
term. In Industries such as semiconductors, most design projects take
over 2 years to production and therefore require marathoners who can
strive to the end.

It is the interest of the company and everyone of its managers to keep their eyes open to see the sprinter or
marathoner among everyone its team members. This innate ability to
perform with maximum efficiency in short bursts versus perform with
consistency over the long term should not only be recognized but also
utilized the improve the efficiency of management of team's resources in
any company. If you are a sprinter or a marathoner, accept it and look
for job functions that fit it with your innate characteristics to
maximize your chances for success.

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