Risk Insider: Jeff Hallman

The Five-Tool Player

By: | July 10, 2014

Jeff Hallman is the vice president in charge of National Accounts at RPA Insurance Services in Parsippany NJ, a commercial property / casualty retail agency specializing in the hospitality industry. He can be reached at [email protected]

There has been a huge amount of discussion in the media about the “new economy” and the future of employment in America. For years, employers have been replacing humans with robotics, computers and software. In recent years, this trend has been increasing exponentially and can now be considered a “megatrend.”

Where are we going? Hint: Not where we used to be.

The middle class is not really disappearing, it’s just being redefined. The bar is being raised and membership in the middle class in the “new economy” requires a whole new skill set.

The Five-Tool Player

If you’re a baseball fan, you have undoubtedly heard the term “five-tool player.” This refers to a professional baseball player who can run, throw, catch, hit for power, and hit for average. Five-tool players are rare in baseball and command the biggest paydays.

In a business environment, a five-tool player is equally rare, but I’m not talking about baseball skills. I believe that the five essential tools needed for mid-level executives are as follows:

• Technical expertise

• Analytical skills

• Management skills

• Communication skills

• Closing skills

Closing skills doesn’t just mean “closing the sale.” I mean dealing effectively with everyone you have to deal with in today’s environment including superiors, subordinates, clients, vendors, even family. Having great closing skills comes from learning how to use the other four tools in a way that makes an executive (and, therefore, the enterprise) achieve its most effective and efficient level of performance.

I’ve noted a growing intolerance for executives with only one or two of these skills, no matter how well developed. Highly skilled underwriters who were promoted into management positions where they achieved only mediocre results is not an uncommon story. One who wishes to not only survive the coming purges and dislocations that new economy will bring but to actually thrive, would be well advised to devote attention to gaining competence in each of these five tools.

Why This Is Really Good News

One does not need to be born with these skills. They can all be learned, and learning should never stop.

The same technology that has reshaped the future of middle-class employment has also given us the tools to access and develop these skills. Literally everything we need is available in some format online. Even our university system has not caught up with this “megatrend” and newly minted B-school graduates are not equipped as they ought to be.

While it might be a little intimidating to think that you would need all five of these skills in order to hold onto your position, let alone advance, we also have never had such wonderful opportunities to develop new and existing skills.

Read all of Jeff Hallman’s Risk Insider contributions.

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