Doubling Down on Success
Let’s say you’re on a basketball team, and when the game is on the line, your best player hits a game-winning shot. In the next game, you need to pick someone to shoot the last shot. Would you choose the same player?
Most professional sports teams — and companies — would say, “Yes.” In both sports and business, successful teams have a tendency to over-rely on their star performers.
While this can work in the short-term, a handful of recent studies suggest this approach might actually inhibit long-term success.
The Success Trap
When one person on a team is appointed as “the superstar” it creates a steep hierarchy on the team. Over time, this makes the team less adaptable and ultimately less successful. Once the hierarchy is established, the game plan slowly transitions away from brainstorming solutions as a group and toward unilateral decision-making.
On a sports team, this type of hierarchy will likely result in one person forcing a bad shot, rather than passing to an open teammate. And in business, it can restrict important decisions to a handful of perspectives, stifling the diversity of ideas that could be contributed by the rest of the team.
Avoiding the Trap
One way to avoid this “success trap” may be to focus on setting goals with an extended time horizon.
This forces the team to remain flexible and versatile for the long haul, rather than getting caught up in short-term successes. A key part of this strategy is giving employees the opportunity and incentive to experiment and take risks.
Sure, there may be mistakes made in the short-term. But as always, mistakes present learning opportunities, allowing your team to become more experienced and resilient. Over the long run, your team will be better off because of them — and will consist of not just one superstar, but a team of superstars.
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