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Whether you are a top sports team or a top business ….. the mantra seems to hire the brightest and the best.

Get the top talent. 

The motivation for recruiting peak performers is obvious — exceptional players are the key to team success — and this belief is shared not only by coaches and sports fans, but also by corporations, investors, and even whole industries. Everyone wants a team of stars.

Research by Roderick Swaab and colleagues suggests there is a limit to the benefit top talents bring to a team. 
They have found that success relies not on individual talent alone but cooperative synergy from the team. 
Basketball and soccer teams with the greatest proportion of elite athletes performed worse than those with more moderate proportions of top level players.

Why is too much talent a bad thing? 

Think teamwork. 

The basketball player chasing a point record, for example, may cost the team by taking risky shots instead of passing to a teammate who is open and ready to score.

Swaabs research found that there is a tradeoff between top talent and teamwork. 

Reigning in the talent and focussing on teamwork may be a better path to peak performance! 

Failure in strategic, collaborative play undermined the team’s effectiveness, and that high levels of top talent was harmful in arenas that require coordinated, strategic efforts, as the quest for the spotlight may trump the teamwork needed to get the job done.

The same results were found in  corporate teams, financial research groups, and brainstorming exercises. 

In fact, too much talent is even evident in other animals: 
When hen colonies have too many dominant, high-producing chickens, conflict and hen mortality rise while egg production drops. 

So, here’s the thing…. recruiting superstars might not be the answer for sports or corporate teams to focus on to achieve  the goals they are trying to achieve.

Success requires collaborative, cooperative work towards a goal that is beyond the capability of any one individual. 

Posted on October 6, 2019

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