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If you possess prior experience working in industries such as technology or any other field, it is probable that you have encountered certain colloquialisms, such as "Ninjas," "Wizards," or "Rockstars." These terms are used to identify exceptionalism. While having a team of such talented individuals can offer significant advantages and sound great on paper, building a team entirely of "Rockstars" in the real world may be counterproductive. I have worked for around 18 years, occupying various roles from Junior Software Developer to VP of Engineering. Based on my good and bad experiences, I will explore why an ideal team isn't made solely of Rockstars or just Doers but goes beyond individual members' technical abilities. An efficient team requires a balanced mix of precisely calibrated and functioning components, much like a well-tuned automobile engine.
The Rockstars Team: High-Octane But Unstable
Imagine a car with a combustion engine made entirely of the most potent combustion cylinders. The concept sounds spectacular on paper - each cylinder, a Rockstar in its own right, promises to deliver unparalleled performance. However, in actuality, this engine would soon turn into a nightmare. The extreme power generated would be too much for any vehicle to handle, leading to an unstable, inefficient, and ultimately unworkable machine. A team full of such remarkably capable individuals may generate many brilliant ideas. Still, the risk of conflicting egos, misaligned objectives, and lack of focus on routine but necessary tasks could derail the team's success.
Drawbacks of a Rockstar-Only Team
Conflicting Ideas: When everyone is a visionary, aligning the team to a common goal becomes challenging.
Ego Clashes: Rockstars are accustomed to being in the spotlight, and having multiple such personalities in a team can lead to conflicts.
Neglected Fundamentals: While everyone pursues the next big thing, routine but essential tasks that keep the project moving may be overlooked.
The Doers Team: Stable But Stagnant
Let's consider a car whose wheels are its only components. While wheels are essential for any vehicle to move, a car made only of wheels won't have the power or functionality to go anywhere fast or effectively. Likewise, a team of Doers might excel in day-to-day tasks and bring stability to a project. Yet, it may lack the creative spark and drive to innovate and evolve, which is essential for taking the next step in product growth.
Drawbacks of a Doer-Only Team
Lack of Innovation: Doers are excellent at following instructions but have little to no will or capacity to innovate.
Dependency on Guidance: This type of team tends to be passive and waits for instructions instead of taking the initiative to solve problems independently.
Resistance to Change: Such teams can resist adopting new methods or technologies, ultimately hindering progress.
The Perfect Recipe - Mixing Rockstars and Doers
A balanced team comprises diverse skill sets, talents, and personalities. A perfectly designed car needs cylinders for power and wheels for movement. The perfect team needs both exceptional performers and diligent workers to function effectively.
Components of a Mixed Team
Domain-specific Rockstars: Depending on the size and nature of your organization, find a Rockstar or two for each crucial domain - be it front-end development, back-end architecture, or data science.
Reliable Doers: Populate the rest of the team with Doers who excel in execution. They will be the ones to implement the vision set forth by the Rockstars.
Interdisciplinary Understanding: Encourage mutual respect and understanding. Rockstars should appreciate the execution skills of Doers, and Doers should respect the vision of Rockstars.
Managing the Mix - The Role of Leadership
As a leader, your role is to assemble this balanced team and ensure its components work harmoniously. Just like a car's engine and wheels need a skilled driver at the helm, a mixed team needs strong leadership to steer it towards its objectives.
Setting Expectations: Define roles and responsibilities and ensure everyone understands their specific and collective goals.
Encouraging Collaboration: Facilitate open communication between Rockstars and Doers. Promote an environment where each can learn from the other.
Monitoring and Tuning: Periodically review team performance. If the team is leaning too much toward innovation and venturing into impractical or unrealistic ideas at the expense of execution, or vice versa, recalibrate.
In the quest for building a high-performing team, it's easy to be seduced by the allure of stacking your team with exceptional individuals. While the potential for innovation and high performance is tempting, it's crucial to remember that too much of a good thing can be harmful. Conversely, a team comprising executors may get the job done but could struggle with stagnation. Therefore, like a well-engineered car, a balanced mix of Rockstars for driving innovation and Doers for steady execution is often the most effective route to long-term success.
So far, we've discussed the essential roles of Rockstars and Doers in a successful team. But what if there was another element - one that could make all the difference? Is your team truly complete? In our upcoming discussion, we will delve deeper into the composition of an ideal team and the importance of another element that will redefine how you approach team building.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Your interest and support are highly appreciated. I am eager to share more insights with you in the future. Please stay tuned for more updates.