ISSUE 34 ISSN 1712-468
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Why “The Great One” Wasn’t So Great

The Danger in Hiring The Superstar

We’ve all been there . . . or we have watched it happen, shaking our heads.

Management places the outstanding performer in a training role, only to watch the person implode in the new position.

For us Canadians, the most recent example was Wayne Gretzky’s foray into coaching for the Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL. Wayne is considered the greatest hockey player ever. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about his coaching abilities. During Wayne’s tenure as coach, the Phoenix Coyotes collapsed as an organization and are now on the brink of being sold—they can barely give tickets away.

The hire-the-star concept happens in all vocations. Yesterday, John Doe was the top-producing salesman in the company; today, he’s in charge of the entire division. Sure, people who are successful in their field come with the skills and knowledge of what it takes to be great, but is that enough?

Sadly, the attitude that made them successful as individuals carries the seeds of destruction when it comes to coaching or supervising a group. Most of the “great” ones don’t like working with others. They would much rather carry the load themselves. They are loners. They have spent most of their waking hours developing their skill level and have watched as others have had to “adjust” to fit their needs.

Just because someone is good on the playing field or in the sales field doesn’t mean he or she will be good at transferring that knowledge to others. It is critical that personal aptitude be given equal weight with job skill.

How can you be certain you have the right person in the position?

To be successful, the candidate will need the following attributes.
  • A genuine liking for working with people
  • The ability to communicate clearly
  • The patience and ability to get along with different kinds of people

I know that sometimes my ability to communicate what needs to be done gets lost in translation. The work I do comes naturally to me and I don’t always know how to explain how to do it, other than saying “Because” or “I don’t know; it just works”—or my favourite, “You should just know that!” An experienced person will often overlook some of the details of the job because the work has become second-nature to him.

Every position requires someone who can clearly instruct others on how to do the work. The person fulfilling the coaching or supervisory role needs to have the necessary skills and judgment to understand

  • how to present relevant information about the job’s complexity; and
  • how much knowledge the person being coached brings to the job.

Too often, the great ones don’t have that skill.

Those who have risen to stardom have often done so on a combination of natural and nurtured skills. As a result, their patience in working with others is often diminished. I know in my own life that I can become critical and lose patience with someone if the individual isn’t “getting it” as quickly as I think he or she should. Just ask some of my family members. ☺

I would much rather work with those on my office team who “get it” right away . . . those who understand where I am coming from. A team, however, is comprised of a number of different people with unique DNA who need a leader able to understand where they are coming from as learners.

To successfully lead a team takes patience and the ability to work with people who are at various points on their journey. I am thankful for past supervisors who have been patient with me.

So the next time you are looking for someone to fill a supervisory role, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Does this person genuinely like working with people?
  2. Can this person clearly communicate how to effectively perform the work to others?
  3. Does he have the patience and ability to get along with different kinds of people?
  4. The ability to convey information

Do you know you can use a simple process to identify, among the rank-and-file, the individuals who are the best bets for fulfilling supervisory or coaching roles? CRG Consulting Resource Group offers a great set of tools to help both the supervisor and the employee better understand the way people prefer to learn. I would encourage you to check out CRG’s Instructional Style Indicator and Learning Style Indicator to get a better handle on becoming a great coach and leader of people.

To find out more about the full holistic suite of CRG solutions, please visit us online at

Yours truly,

Neal Diamond

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