Superstars vs. Force Multipliers


I recently came across this comment on LinkedIn, and even though it is about software development it made me think about how we identify, recruit, and develop talent in schools:

“There is a persistant myth in software development that a developer who can knock out high profile features quickly is the rockstar you want. That's not the rockstar. The rockstar is the developer who comes in working on those features, but also spots the mundane problems that are slowing the team down and takes the time to fix them. The first is ego-centric. The second, is a force multiplier. You really need that force multiplier. Teams, not individuals, produce large scale software. And teams require individuals who can overcome their egos so they can work together to create something greater. Business is not an individual sport.”

—Ted Hogan, Senior Manager Software Development at Zoro US

Are you looking for superstars or force multipliers?

The distinction resonates strongly with two phenomenal books: New Power (2018) by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, and The Captain Class (2017) by Sam Walker.

New Power teaches us that in our networked age, the most effective leaders treat power as a current rather than a currency. They activate the current, they amplify the current, and most of all they share the current. They empower everyone.

And The Captain Class teaches us that elite teams are led by captains who “carry water” for their teammates, challenge the status quo, and elevate the play of everyone—all without ever having to lead their teams in any significant statistical category.

When you try to identify a new teacher, a new advancement officer, a new receptionist, or any other new employee… Are you looking for the individual who will deliver superior individual results? Or do you look for the individual who will make everyone on her team better?

And when you develop the talent you have, are you trying to form superstars or force amplifiers?


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