Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Ever wondered why we need Superstars in sports, manufacturing, Information Technology, even Politics? Certain companies or individuals make all the difference in their field of work…Jordan in Basketball…Schumacher in F1…Usain Bolt in Athletics…GE…Google…Quite a number of times this question has often taken debating to a heated-level. At least I did debate it at a firm that was clear they didn’t want a ‘Superstar’ Culture – wherein everyone was treated as a star! It’s good to think that way when you are trying very hard at keeping EVERYONE happy. Let’s admit that’s never going to happen!

So why do we need Superstars? This is very small population of people who have it in them to risk everything and put more than 100% effort in carving new paths, setting market trends, providing new solutions – basically doing enough to stay ahead of the troops. They are NOT dependent on market conditions or strong products; at times they might not even require managers! Yes, this population is NECESSARY and we all need them in our field of work. They are the ones who push the envelope, define your high-bar for achievements and a whole lot more.

The challenge however is in accepting the fact that this population does exist. If we had to question their existence, then a good way to do it would be to ask – Why are performance management systems in place? Why are we constantly undergoing an exercise to find out the best person in the team? Why do we have awards for folks who have gone beyond their line of duty, performed exceedingly well, shown initiatives, and led teams to greater success? It is to ensure that ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution is not used. We go the extra mile to accommodate the top-performer, give into their demands & end up making them your team’s iconic figure. In other words, they are the ‘Superstars’ that we will ALWAYS want in our teams.

However, certain boundaries need to be expanded or erased to accommodate superstars.

- They need to be given freedom to excel
- Work with a manager better than them (else, you can say your goodbyes)
- They need to be directed on a particular course and let them take full responsibility
- Superstars work best as individual-performers
- Fast-paced environments really excite them

Now for some pitfalls to having Superstars, which can be managed effectively

- Don’t put them on a pedestal that clearly indicates them as the key-player. They are excellent in what they do; but that’s not a license to can walk over others!
- There is a big-boost to egos when people are identified as ‘Superstars’. It’s a killer if you don’t make them realize that – the fastest way down in taking a ride on ego-coasters! You don’t need to tolerate their Egos.
- Team members not able to match the Superstar’s level – are often subjected to humiliation. Ensure to kick some a%%! They are 'Part-of-the-team' and NOT 'a-team-by-themself'
- Please do not put them under low-performing managers. Superstars need someone to look up too; after all even they are looking at growing in their careers.

Superstars come with loads of baggage. If you are not up to managing them, then DONOT hire them!