He (Bill Belichick) is a five-tool leader, adept at strategy, tactics, preparation, execution, and what you might call situational intuition, the rare ability to know which among the first four is required and when.

– Mike Lombardi Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and Building Dynasties in the NFL.

This comment about New England Patriot coach Bill Belichick should resonate with any good investment manager. Coach Belichick is also noted as a teacher who is constantly trying to improve himself and those around him. Every manager should strive to be good at all five tools especially with knowing when to employ each one effectively.

It actually is hard to find good managers who have mastered all five tools. Strategies are often poorly defined and without a strong philosophy of how to exploit opportunities in the market. Some managers who can articulate a strategy are not good at the tactics of making money. Others are less effective at preparation, which in many cases is the research necessary to exploit tactics. Preparation is often thankless. There are good analysts but these analysts are not always good at execution, which is a specialized skill. Of course, there are limits on our time so the most important skill is understanding the current situation and what skills are most needed at any time. Some problems require focus on execution while others need more preparation. Good managers know how to switch their attention.

Managers should engage in a leadership tool assessment to determine what they need to work on to be more effective. This assessment should be a part of an annual review. Of course, Coach Belichick might give a grunt and just say, “Do your job.”