A Field Guide to Spotting Your Next MVP

Written by Tim Wat.

For more information or to contact Tim, email him at Tim.Wat@GRITTBusinessCoaching.com.

In every arena of human effort, we recognize extraordinary performers. We often call them MVPs – our most valuable players.

MVPs make contributions and differences above and beyond our expectations. They turn around seasons and win championships. They make entire teams and companies better.

They drive results.

If only we could identify them early on. Consider some of these common characteristics for spotting your next MVP.

Large Domains of Knowledge

In a world flooded with information and data competing for our attention, perhaps our most prized skill is sense making. Sense making is the ability to identify the meaning and importance of experiences and events. This is the great challenge of our time, as we swim in an ever-rising tide of news, numbers, and voices competing for our attention. Sense making makes connections and sees contextual relationships. It interprets what is important and crucial to us.

Why is this an MVP-level skill? Because business is an exercise in translation. We translate opportunities – market opportunities, customer needs, emerging trends – and challenges – our competition, time and budget constraints – into strategic objectives and goals, operational requirements, budgets, and schedules. We translate and interpret the opportunities and challenges around us and create solutions and ways to execute them.

MVPs command large domains of knowledge – they possess depth and breadth in multiple areas of knowledge and understanding. Commanding deep knowledge in multiple domains equips for faster, more insightful, more innovative translation. It provides more ways to associate, relate, compare and create better solutions – solutions that your competitors won’t think of, and solutions that may become your next sustainable competitive advantage. Look for it in your brightest and best, and you may find your next MVP.

Cross-Functional Skills

It’s one thing to know about many things, and it’s another to be able to execute and produce something valuable.

MVPs are cross-functional – they have working skills and practical experience in other areas beyond the role at hand. They have delivered results across several different areas, often in a variety of industries, and have a track record of getting things done in all sorts of roles and capacities. Find someone with a history of execution and results in a wide range of roles and experiences, and you may be looking at your next MVP.


Curiosity and a lifelong love of learning are hallmarks of business MVPs. Faced with a task and a deadline, they’ll execute and deliver results. And even after delivery, they’ll still be curious if there’s an even better way to get it done the next time. Curiosity and desire to learn drive continual improvement and innovation.

You also see MVP curiosity when someone is curious enough about a customer’s pain or problem to ask the next question – the one that reveals deep insight into where your customer’s desires, needs, and fears reside. Burning curiosity about what people want, need, and fear are the foundation of innovation, progress, and growth. The person who continues to ask questions after everyone else has stopped may be revealing that thirst for learning and understanding that drives MVPs.

Givers, not takers

MVPs become leaders. Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about committing to care for those in your charge. Jack Welch once called it “the generosity gene” – the powerful game-changing quality when someone is passionate about people. To quote Welch, the generosity gene is a “personality-deep craving to help other people improve, grow, thrive, and succeed.”

MVPs just can’t help themselves – they have to elevate their team. They have to see others around them succeed just as they succeed. They give to others, they help others, they support others’ wins and successes. Find this quality and you’ll find someone who attracts others to work with them, energizes their team members, and inspires higher performance throughout the organization.

We believe human resources hold your greatest potential for performance, growth, and success in today’s competitive market. Among all your human resources, Most Valuable Players are the greatest asset of all. In today’s pursuit of talent, you need to identify MVPs as early as possible. When you find people with wide domain knowledge, cross-functional skills, deep curiosity and a history of people-focused generosity, you are well on your way to finding your next Most Valuable Players.

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Tim Wat
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