Stars that, well… Aren’t

From my previous post, we sort of just “woke up” and clearly realized we had a star in our midst. Cool… when it happens.

Just as frequently, we discover they are really “near-stars,” “wannabes,” and/or “pretend-stars.” Those names fit them well, since at their core, well, they simply aren’t stars.

Let’s look at them more closely…

Near-Stars are just that — nearly a star, but still coming up short. They work hard (sometimes, even ‘too’ hard), always struggling mightily to be a strong #2 performer, or to get that eventual promotion.

They likely are solid, loyal employees; as such, they have great value… but alas, will likely never make it to starhood. They don’t have that “next level” sort of thinking; that “give me a problem I’ll solve it” attitude, or the “lead, follow, or get out of the way” demeanor.

Keepers, to be sure; just not Stars.

Wannabes, well, they really “wanna be” a star, but just don’t have it in them. They’ll occasionally show up where stars lurk, buddying up with the big boys (and girls), and really wanting to get their own secret decoder ring. Their biggest challenge is bridging the cavernous gap between “here” and “there.”

In other words, they simply just don’t want it badly enough. Oh, they do want to be a star — it just looks so easy when real stars do it, these wannabes feel like it should be easy for them as well. And frankly, it’s easier to hang out comfortably with stars and enjoy some of their fame, than it is to actually put forth the effort to try — or fail — to become one themselves.

These wannabes can be management challenges: people who may or may not have the potential, want the glory, and are always needing a senior leader’s attention.

Pretend-Stars are a problem. You know these people well. They are the ones that just don’t seem to fit easily into your organizational structure; They may very well be capable of higher-level performance, but only when the epicenter of events and attention.

These are prima donas on steroids.

On the surface, they almost look like a real star, but when placed in a role requiring team play, eventually the team somehow won’t pass muster, and they’ll blow the team up or simply ignore them going forward, opting to “do their own thing” instead. Every conversation seems to be a negotiation, and every negotiation leaves both sides frustrated.

You can never do enough, and they’ll let you know that constantly. Give them an ounce more responsibility, they are in your office the next morning wanting to discuss their new compensation package. You know these guys…

Real stars are great, when we can find, nurture, and keep them. Near stars are essential for any successful business. Wannabes are a pain — usually harmless — that can strain your patience but may offer a decent gallery for your real stars.

Pretend stars are, as I said above, a problem. You know that, their peers know that, and most of the organization knows that.

So, what are you doing about it??


Kevin Berchelmann

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