Are You Playing For Your Star, Or As A Team

I just finished the book, How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins. In this book, he explores how once great companies fall from their pinnacle of success. One of the things that I noticed was that companies were more successful when they grew their own talent. Often times when the mighty companies were in decline, they would look to outside leaders to “save” them.

This in turn made me think of an article I read recently by Jeffrey Pfeffer on He explored a study by Professor Boris Groysberg, of the Harvard Business School. This study explored the impact of the talent war in the financial services sector. The findings revealed that rarely did a star live up to the price that was paid to bring them on board. In fact, often the stars performance declined as did the team that they joined.

I remember a friend that left Citicorp (before it was Citibank). He was a star performer in their collection unit and he landed a plumb job in government. His mission was to ramp up the States Revenue Collections Department. I ran into him a few years ago. He told me of his long-term regret. The state bureaucracy had overwhelmed him and he could not get change made. Now he had 5 – 6 more years to get to retirement and he was miserable.

In a recent Fast Company article Chip and Dan Heath point out that, “Organizations make this mistake constantly; we prize individual brilliance over the ability to work together as a team.” I watched Denver over the last few years since John Elway retired seeking the next super star. There is only John Elway. But, if you compare the Broncos to Coach Wooden’s basketball team, I think you see the difference. Several times the Broncos’ went to Super Bowl only to lose. Wooden has the longest championship streak in the game. One played to a Star and one team played as a Team.

You see high performance teams are…Teams. They are not a star and his/her support staff. Teams learn how to play to each others strengths and cover each others backs.  They do this by having a culture and agreement on the goals. They share the same vision and they want the team (not the individual) to win.

As a Business Leaders are you driving your company with a team or a  Star?

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