Surround yourself with rock stars…or at least folks that are better than you

rockstarblogRon Emery

Saw the phrase “surround yourself with rock stars” posted on LinkedIn the other day when talking about the attributes of leadership and well, I couldn’t agree more it’s probably a lot rarer than you think and probably a lot more difficult to construct than you could ever imagine. And I don’t know if you could construct it that you would want to construct it…let me tell you more.

There is nothing wrong with the idea in general but we all realize that an organization can’t have too many leaders lest it flounder. I associate rock stars with leadership. They can quickly become malcontents and cause problems within the organization if not lead by a strong leader. Rock stars or potential leaders and in some organizations we called them hi-pots (high potential employees) need attention.  They need to feel like they are part of the solution and certainly not part of the problem.  They need insight, an empowering work environment and mentorship or sometimes coaching. They need constant communication to understand why their work is so important to the organization and find strong meaning in what they are accomplishing. They need positioning and constant challenges that allow them to use their creative ideas and experiment using them or at least applying those principles in their own laboratory (their minds).  And if the organization isn’t prepared to offer all these things to them they soon become bored and not content with the pace at which the organization moves (in their mind at a snail’s pace).  And so the disconnect.

In my book “The Dysfunctional Organization” we explore a world without politics, petty jealousy, the drive to get ahead and envision a world in which people work in harmony under one directive, “what is best for all of us at the company”. Those thoughts assume we can create selfless leaders within an organization. In my follow on book, “Growing Comes from Planting Seeds” we talk of a selfless leadership concept which is better known as mentoring. Big task, yes but why can’t we create an organization that allows us to reward this kind of behavior rather than stifle it?

I have always had a simple approach and it served me well.  You see I was a good student, not a great student.  I did not graduate with a 4.0 and I certainly wasn’t the valedictorian of my class.  But all of that doesn’t mean I am destined for failure either. In fact when we are not blessed with the greatest natural ability in school we probably learn what is important in ones success a little easier and quicker. When you want a refresher check out my blog on The Seven C’s of Leadership.

I tend to argue rather than a team of rock stars we need a symphony orchestra with the right conductor to make beautiful music together. I would rather build an organization that takes advantage of everyone’s specific skills and helps everyone attack all of their weaknesses.  The leader in this type of organization is somewhat like an alchemist looking for the right recipe to turn lead (little value) into gold (great value). It is that blend of experiences and talent that is going to enrich the team and create a dynamic environment. If we can create the optimum mix we can create the greatest music.

I have always believed that in order for “us “to be successful “we” have to build a great team.  What is a team?  A team is a collection of individuals (some stars and some average individuals who understand and perform their role to nth degree). It isn’t all rock stars. Now this year’s Detroit Tigers have one hell of a team with a lot of rock stars but not everyone can be a rock star and it’s the makeup of the team that is important not the individuals that make up that team. A lot of folks use the phrase “there is no I in TEAM) and that is true as a team is about we.  So be careful about rock stars as a sprinkling of rock stars are great for the organization but realize it takes special leadership abilities to manage such a team.  Look for people that compliment your vision and bring additional background that support it.  Look for people that are interested in the “we” rather than the ‘I” and make sure you create the right environment and give the team credit when it performs well, just as any great coach would do. It takes vision, patience, communication and most importantly all of leadership arsenal that you’ve accumulated over the years to be successful. It is a marathon not a sprint we are running….