Superstar Syndrome vs Greatness through the Individual? (Or, why prepositions matter)
#GTIdeology Happy Hour Rejoinder for August 4, 2016
I was pleased and not entirely surprised that our happy hour crowd largely against superstars being a problem qua high performers. I rush to agree. The last thing I want to do, or to be seen as doing, is undermine or discourage
In fact, just the opposite. Greatness through the Individual demands and assumes the contribution to the full potential of and from every member of the Organization. It is the axiomatic starting point for discussing superstar performance.
It is also the opposite of fostering superstars. That is not to deny that there are individuals who consistently perform at the highest levels and outperform those around them. There are!
The point is not to discourage those high performers much less to reduce all contribution to the lowest common denominator. The point is to encourage each individual to perform and contribute to her or his full potential, neither at the expense of nor for the sake of another’s contribution.
What I have dubbed Superstar Syndrome does not allow that development. It is the assumption that an organization should or must be built on top performers, “superstars,” too often understood to be high maintenance, selfish individuals who must be accommodated and placated and, thus, around whom a company or team revolves.
I also believe Superstar Syndrome is a far more pervasive problem than came across in our discussion.
Greatness of the Individual: Superstar Syndrome in People
Whether we agree on the pervasiveness of Superstar Syndrome, there is no argument that some top performers are temperamental prima donnas, expecting their organizations cater to them.
These individuals fancy themselves superstars and consider the organization a stage for their performance, which performance entitles them to being treated as superstars, sans regard for colleagues or teammates.
They are toxic to an organization, regardless of what their performance delivers. But there is also no argument that some organizations will oblige them.
Greatness by the Individual: Superstar Syndrome in Organizations
Organizations afflicted by Superstar Syndrome believe that organizational success depends on superstars.
These organizations well may be successful, but only at the whim of their superstars. The fewer superstars on whom an organization relies and the more those superstars tend toward Superstar Syndrome themselves, the more tenuous the organization’s success becomes.
On the other hand, Superstar Syndrome does not guarantee success.
Often, superstars prove unable or unwilling to work together, as each considers the organization her or his own stage. Just as often the need for an entire team proves greater than the need for individual superstars.
Regardless of outward success, Superstar Syndrome itself is an affliction. Companies afflicted are not healthy ones.
Greatness through the Individual and the 3rd Radical Idea: Beyond Superstar Syndrome
Functional organizations understand that greatness is not achieved by the contribution of one or several superstars, but created by the entirety of its members. We do not eschew high performers; in fact, we covet them, but not because of their performance alone.
Functional organizations comprise healthy individuals who do not view the organization as a stage, but as a conduit through which their performance flows. They do not expect to be accommodated, but to contribute to their maximum potential.
These are the individuals who recognize themselves as part of a team, regardless of comparative performance. Not necessarily an equal contributor, but a full contributor, who is depended on and depends on others for their contributions.
Every individual who contributes to individual potential capacity is an organizational superstar. And should be esteemed as such. Further, an organization comprised exclusively of such superstars, in the long run, will outperform those accomodating prima donna “superstars.”
That is what greatness through the Individual means.
About Vince Skolny
Vince Skolny is currently launching the Skolny Organization, a family of for-profit companies, on his radical idea that greatness is only created through the Individual. Its essential purpose of impacting the world by creating and encouraging greatness through the Individual in business, life, and society.
Pronounced G-T-Ideology and comprising “7 Radical Ideas to Impact the World,” the Skolny Organization’s GTIdeology is a comprehensive ideology for business rooted in Vince’s philosophy of Greatness through the Individual.
Connecting with Vince
The very best way to connect with Vince is by hanging out with him on Twitter, where he talks about everything from marketing to March Madness, greatness through the Individual, current events, organizational development, and trending hashtags. He is unvarnished, unfiltered, and quite often unprofessional there, but Vince loves to tweet.
Follow Vince on LinkedIn to discuss the GTIdeology and its practical applications for business and careers in more detail. He posts both a Greatness in Your Career article and a GTIdeology RX article focusing on practical implementation of the GTIdeology every week. He also posts several updates every day on the GTIdeology and various tactical aspects of business.
Like Vince’s fledgling Facebook page, where he publishes daily lists, tips, hacks, and challenges for creating Greatness through the Individual and intends to build a thriving community of individuals striving to create and encourage it in their own lives, business, and society.