It’s no secret that there is a battle to attract the best people. Organisations invest heavily in talent attraction programs, culture PR, extras and more to hire the star players. But is this the best tactic for developing a high performing team? The answer is, that it depends. We are complex beings as individuals, and when we start to put groups of complex beings together in the form of teams, well, it can get messy.

“It’s not the team with the best players that wins, it’s the players with the best team that wins.”

I’ve seen that quote attributed to several different people, but whomever said it, was on to something. The battle to attract the best people is understandable. However, if this is a unidimensional activity it can damage teams severely. Too often we see star players overwhelm and damage team dynamics. While they may have a positive impact in the short term, that impact can diminish in the medium and long term. This results in overall team performance declining, disengagement and attrition. This is a difficult challenge to turn around.

As leaders, we have a responsibility to build our teams in a sustainable way. To create environments that the collective can thrive in, as opposed to creating an environment that is geared towards the success of an individual over them team. This includes the leader – it can’t be about you, it must be about the team. This is true if you want to create a high performance environment.

We must look at our teams with a multidimensional lens. We must make it about the team first, then the players. In other words, we are not just looking for the best players – we are looking for the best players for our team. This means that we need to look a bit deeper.

So, as we look a little deeper we can consider what will work best for the team in terms of  character, experience, education and attitude. It is also wise to have clarity around what it is that we want from the next player to join our team, what will they do, how will they add value, what impact will they have on others, how will they fit into the dynamic that already exists.

In some cases the star player may be what is required in the team, sometimes they won’t be. Some of the best performing teams that we encounter don’t have a star player, a person that stands out above the rest. The important point is to be rigourous in understanding the context and you will have a much better chance of finding the best person for your team.


The Performance Nerds