Employee Dynamics: Superstars and Team Players

In front of you stands a group of classmates—some eagerly jumping around waiting to be picked, while others do their best to hold in their anticipation of being picked last.  As one of the team captains, it is up to you to pick teammates who will work together to win this game of kickball. 

But who do you pick?

As leaders in our organizations, we have all faced this scenario on many occasions.  Whether it be during the hiring process, deciding who to take on as business partners, who to promote, or which companies we may want to merge or acquire, figuring out what you value is crucial.  And your decision should be driven by the culture you have and want to create.

So, which players do you choose?  The players who you know have the skills — the ones who can run fast, kick far or are able to catch a ball?  Or do you pick the players who don’t possess the all skills, but know how to work as a team?  What kind of team will you create?


Superstars are the people who seem naturally gifted when it comes to the work they do.  They are usually the ones who are able to be given an idea and produce results that blows people away.

Highlights. Some common things you may notice with superstars are that is that they are highly innovative.  Their ability to think and analyze on a deeper level helps them to create new ways of approaching projects and tasks.  It is also due to this that they tend to have strong entrepreneurial skills.  Keeping a superstar challenged and allowing them to express their creativity is essential for retaining your superstar.

Limitations. Other things to keep in mind is that a superstar’s skills may intimidate others.  Because they do so well at their jobs, other employees may feel — or are afraid that, in comparison — their ideas may not be good enough.  As a result of this, superstars either picks up after everyone else, or they are always put in charge, which may develop into a narcissistic mindset.

Team Player

Team plays are just as valuable to an organization as a superstar.  Unlike a superstar, team players aren’t necessarily masters at every task you throw at them.  They have their strengths and their weaknesses.  However, they have the ability to work together with other people in order to try and balance these attributes out. 

Highlights.  With team players, some things you may expect to see is that they care about relationships.  Due to this, they place high importance on interactions — whether this be with coworkers and/or clients.  Unlike a superstar, team players have more of a tendency to help those around them rise up in the organization.  This emphasis on people develops them into the glue that holds together an organization.

Limitations.  Some things to keep in mind with team players are that their emphasis of creating and maintaining relationships may impact their ability to do their work.  In some cases, people-oriented employees may focus too much on helping others that they neglect their own work.  In addition to this, they can create the same amount of impact as a superstar, but it may just take some more time.


As you can see from the breakdown above, both groups have their benefits and downfalls.  But overall, when you have too many people from one group, it leaves an enormous weakness that can easily be exploited and that harm the organization—whether this be a productivity, cultural, financial or quality standpoint. 

The simplest way would be to have an even distribution of super stars and team players.  But a further step would be to help super stars and team players become better rounded.

In the end, it’s all about balancing.  Ideally, a successful business would have a combination of both super stars and team players to create a balanced environment.  Having a clear vision is also helpful in this situation because it gives employees — regardless of whether they’re a superstar or a team player — a common goal to work towards, regardless of their styles.