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Does Your Team Have Too Much ‘Talent’?

October 28, 2015 • Uncategorized

The 2015 World Series starts this week, Does Your Team Have Too Much ‘Talent’?and it’s a good time to talk about talented teams. I’ve heard you can never have too much talent. I don’t believe that.

What I do believe is that success in a team sport, and in most businesses, depends on the right talent, not the most talent. To take that one step further, too much talent actually can block your success when it comes at the cost of team cohesion.

The concept of talent must shift in the corporate world. Technological process means that in the next few decades, robots and smart machines are projected to take over more than half of U.S. jobs. The remaining jobs will be those that demand more complex thinking and emotional intelligence that technology can’t replicate (at least not yet!). For corporate teams, ‘talent’ must become more about a team member’s ability to think critically, innovate, create and emotionally engage with others.

Here’s more of why and how we need to rethink talent—and read to the end for my World Series pick that is based on this important belief.

The Problem With Too Much Talent

A recent piece in The Atlantic pointed out how too many alpha egos diminish a team’s potential. In both business and sports, organizations compete fiercely to attract the top talent. This makes sense—top talent leads to better performance, right? Research shows this is true only to a certain extent. Too much talent actually negatively impacts team performance.

Why is this? Organized groups depend on a clear hierarchy to function at their peak. When leadership and expectations falls on superstars, it’s easy for the rest of the team to check out.

Whose job is it? The superstars’ of course. They want it. They dominate.

Meanwhile, your key supporting players don’t see a place to fit in. They can’t. It’s hard to breathe when all those egos take over.

Accountability and Coachability > Talent

A stable of star team members must check their egos at the door. It’s the only way that they can hold each other accountable, which is one of the keys to a successful team. Accountability goes hand in hand with execution.

Instead of talking about talent, let’s talk about coachability. Like high performing athletes, great employees are coachable. She or he embraces feedback and has a growth mindset. This perspective is based in a desire to learn. It embraces challenges, persists despite obstacles, thinks of effort as a means to mastery, and welcomes the chance to learn from constructive criticism.

A person with this mindset maximizes his or her talent. He or she views others’ success as a window into lessons and inspiration for even greater personal success, fueled by the power of free will (not expectation).

A coachable team member is like superglue. He or she helps a team of many talent levels perform greater than the sum of its parts.

So Whose Talent Will Win the 2015 World Series?

I consider myself a Midwesterner, so my heart is more with the Kansas City Royals over the New York Mets.

But more than my roots, I am picking the Royals because they grind it out and find ways to win, a feat only possible through great team chemistry and an even distribution of the right talent.

Ultimately, this Series will be less about breakout stars (sorry, Mets’ hotshot pitchers), even though you’ll see plenty of them in the headlines. The Royals are more about players embracing their roles, and I believe that will make the difference.

Your Game Changer Takeaway

How have you defined talent on your team? Take a hard look at what makes a team member stand out in that regard. You get what you reward, so make sure that the talent that you most need on your corporate team—the glue of coachability and accountability—is defined specifically and recognized often. Check out my team building page for more ideas, and let me know what’s working for you.

Molly Fletcher helps inspire and equip game changers to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.