Get rid of the “Most Valuable Player” designation!

Get rid of the “Most Valuable Player” designation!


To me, one of the most useless designations has always been the “Most Valuable Player” award.

Awarded in sports, with similar concepts created in business, the objective of the award is to recognize the individual that was the best, contributed the most, or ensured the success of the project or team.

To me, the entire concept of a MVP in sport is contradictory.

It’s a team sport – any selection of one player as the “most valuable” is hard to measure and subjective at best.

More importantly, the idea of selecting one player above all of the rest of the team defeats the very concept of a TEAM in the first place.

Can anyone truly argue that Messi is more valuable than Ronaldo to their teams? Put differently – would Ronaldo be as effective if he was at Barca or Messi if he played at Real Madrid. Probably not, but does it matter? More recently, would Von Miller have wreaked as much havoc on Cam Newton had the Broncos defensive front not totally dominated the Panthers front five (or had the defensive backfield not completely blanketed the Panthers receiving corps?).

In almost all situations, the team dynamic sets the tone for individual performances. The team composition enables stars to perform because of the contribution of the players around them.

This does not mean to imply that stars don’t exist. They most certainly do – in sports, and in business.

The point is that to recognize Most Valuable Players (or in our case, most valuable executives or sales people) trivializes the important role that the team plays in creating the success of the whole.

How many times have we seen, again in sport, true teams with no stars humiliate a team with one star. Relying on the star while the rest of the team sits back is rarely effective – especially in business.

And for me, regularly recognizing individual performance only serves to incent individuals to act for themselves rather than for the good of the team. All the team building in the world can’t help if the prize at the end of the day is an individual award. It has been suggested to me as I prepared this article, that some companies create Most Valuable Teammate awards – recognizing the individual that contributes the most to making the team successful. I believe that those types of awards would actually work toward supporting the team concept that a company is trying to promote internally.

In business – if the focus is on building better teams, empowering those teams to act, and rewarding the team for their performance – the success will be much more sustainable.