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Ep31: Superstar Hires: The Silent Culture Killers

We’re told to recruit superstars. A team of superstars means high performance…right? What if we told you the opposite was true?

A team of superstars means high performance…right?

What if we told you the opposite was true? Hiring superstars has been shown to drag team performance down. And worse, a toxic superstar costs us productivity losses equating to four full-time employees. 

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So, what now? 

Are superstar hires the silent culture killers? And if they are, how do we attract great (good…? average..?!) talent that contributes to team performance and adds value to our culture. 

To answer these mind-twisting questions and more, we’re joined by three very special expert guests.

Join Ryne Sherman, Chief Science Officer at Hogan, and Martin Solway and Fidel Torreiro, Co-Founders of Audax Generation, as we discuss: 

  • What is the superstar effect?
  • Is it different from a toxic superstar?
  • What is the truth and lies about hiring superstars?
  • How do we manage superstars?
  • Should we be recruiting average instead of A+ talent?
  • Why is it important to shift our focus from individual to team performance?
  • How to we build diverse teams?
  • How do we protect culture as we grow?
  • If your entire recruitment strategy to date is based on hiring A+ talent, this episode is a must-listen!



All the links mentioned in the show.

Ryne Sherman, Hogan Assessments

Martin Solway 

Fidel Torreiro

Audax Generation

Find out more about Audax Generation and their incredible learning & development and coaching services, including team immersive experiences at

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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Leanne: Hello and welcome to the Truth, lies and Workplace Culture Podcast, brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a business psychologist

Al: and my name is Al and I’m a business owner

Leanne: and we are here to help you simplify the science of people and build amazing workplace cultures where people and businesses thrive.

Al: We definitely are, and we’ve got lots of great feedback from some of our previous episodes where people have said they’ve got some implementable stuff from it.

Leanne: That’s a nice word.

Al: Implementable. Implementable. I like saying that. I like saying hedgehog too.

Leanne: I like porcupine.

Al: just like spiky things, things with spines.

We, we are not big fan of inverter bread cuz they don’t have spines, but we are very, very big fans of porcupines and

Leanne: hedgehogs. Mm-hmm. . We like Ladies of the backbone. Oh, nice.

Al: On brand. On

Leanne: you. Thank you.

Al: So we are talking about this, these superstars a effect today.

Leanne: We are,

Al: Um, do we have a title for this yet?

Leanne: We do

Al: hit me

Leanne: Superstar Hires the Silent Culture Killers.

Al: Oh, that’s a

Leanne: bum bum bum

Al: That’s a good one. Yes. So it’s, it’s funny because as a non um, people professional myself, um, I always thought, oh well you just need superstars. In fact, there was a thing about 10 years ago when I was start recruiting for one of my businesses that, uh, everyone said, oh, you need to have a rockstar. You need to have, and oh gosh, some people would spell it r a w k, which made me throw up in

Leanne: Oh, why?

Al: cause cuz I think they were doing the American thing.

A rockstar kind of thing.

Leanne: Oh

Al: I know. Really disappointing. So there was a big thing about, oh, you need these great people and how you, how do you find the ninjas and the superstars? And then as Leanne and I were speaking, what we’ve spoken more, quite a lot actually, , um, seeing as we lived

Leanne: 15 years of horror relationship. We have had some conversations.

Al: have. We have. And so, uh, so lean is explaining that’s not necessarily the right thing. It’s not necessarily the right way to go. So give us some, give us some background. Why, why was I wrong all those years ago? I’m still wrong now, by

Leanne: way. . Well, that’s what we’re gonna dive in today. But there is a psychological phenomenon called the Superstar Effect, um, and there is something else called a toxic superstar.

We’re gonna explain the two, how they’re different, how they might be similar, and what other truth and lies of of hiring superstars. Do we wanna recruit a plus talent or actually do we want to be recruiting average talent? These are some of the questions we will be answering today with the help of our wonderful expert guests.

Our first guest is a friend of the show and I’m thrilled to have him back on at, you’ll remember him from our Business of Family episode. It is of course Ryan Sherman. Ryan is Chief Science Officer at Hogan Assessment Systems. Uh, he’s an expert in personality assessment, leadership and organizational effectiveness.

He’s co-host of the Science of Personality Podcast, um, and he’s won lots of fancy awards for all the incredible psychology that he does. Let’s re. It . Let’s remind ourselves and be reintroduced to Ryan Sherman.

All Guests: So I am. Chief Science Officer, uh, which means I run our data science division at Hogan. The data science division, uh, really consists of maybe three different parts. One part where we do custom research for clients, helping clients find personality-based solutions that fit their specific needs, uh, job roles or whatever they may be.

All of the data that we gather, all the research and studies that we do, keeping those organized. Um, so that, you know, we were just always accumulating more knowledge and, and keeping that at our fingertips is a really important part of what I do are, are what, what my teams do.

Al: And our next guest are Martin Solway and Fidel Toro. I think I’ve said that right, Fidel, I’m sorry. I should have practiced it before we actually could press record.

Fidel Martin have over 40 years combined experience in various roles in the energy and pharmaceutical sectors. They’ve both got mba, fancy, fancy, uh, one of them I think Fidel’s is from Henley Business School of Martin’s from the Warwick Business School.

They’re qualified and practicing coaches, and together they’ve founded the Aax Generation, which is a fantastic business, which creates immersive experiences for teams. Let’s go meet Martin and Fidel.

All Guests: My name’s Martin SOWE. Uh, so I’m, co-founder with Bidell here of the, the ADX generation, uh, which we started, uh, about two years ago. Um, my background, so I’ve been in, in corporate, in the corporate world, in the energy sector for about, uh, 20 years, um, doing different roles and, uh, went on a coaching course and, uh, and, and found for Dell, and we got talking about interest, uh, and curiosity around, uh, unlocking people’s potential.

Um, and saw an opportunity around uht, uh, which I’m sure we’re gonna talk a lot about, uh, today. So, and hi, this is Fidel. Um, and yes, everything that Martin said applies to me. Um, but instead of, uh, energy, my background is in pharmaceuticals. Uh, longest billion working incorporated with, with many teams, so all different shapes and forms and locations and organizations.

Leanne: So Martin, an Fidel co-founded the adex generation in 2021, and they are on a mission to unlock team’s potential. Um, so yeah, they work with individuals, teams, organizations to bolster purpose and remain future fit. Let’s hear more about adex generation.

All Guests: So we work with, with teams, with, uh, from, you know, various organizations from kind of startups through to big, uh, corporate, uh, and, uh, essentially what we do is we work with them, uh, u utilizing coaching. So our really, our philosophy is, is that, uh, we believe that, you know, every team is, is made up of individuals who are unique.

Um, and then we do, uh, workshops as well and our. Are slightly different, uh, in term in regards that they, uh, we really wanted to, uh, disrupt as well, um, the way we do things. So we use menopause, uh, where we’ve partnered with, uh, different, uh, teams, um, in different countries as well. So, uh, we, we’ve partnered with, uh, teams such what’s called the, in, in Catalonia, um, who do these amazing human towers.

Uh, a rowing club, uh, here locally in Oxfordshire. Uh, and, uh, uh, so an aerobatics, uh, display team as, as well. So to really, uh, to give some fun in terms of, uh, for teams to come along together, uh, but to really challenge their thinking, uh, and, and, and push them to say, look, you know, you can achieve amazingly, seemingly impossible things.

Al: Human towers. I’ll tell you what, if you, if you wanna see some crazy pictures, go to the Ord generation website. There’s, there’s towers of people, hundreds of people high, I’m sure. Um, I still don’t know how they do it without, with health and safety and all that cuz someone fell off the top. That’s gonna hurt.

Leanne: I, I, I don’t know. I’m sure they’ll tell as if we ask them

Al: sure they will. So we’ll hear more from Ryan, Martin and Fidel shortly. But first it’s our favorite time of the week. It is the news roundup.

Leanne: Yay.

Al: If you, if this is your first news roundup segment, then lucky you,

Leanne: you’re in for treat.

Al: got about six and a half minutes of Leanne telling you what’s happened in the world of people and culture this week in her own in Inable.

That’s a difficult word to say in her own style. I’ll leave it at that Over to you, Leah.

Leanne: first advice from a teacher just reminded me, I’ve never been very good at spelling and my English and this, back in the day, we had to write my English A level had to actually write, not type.

And she said to me, if you dunno how to spell a word, pick a different one.

Al: I wish, I wish I had a teacher like

Leanne: Say if you, if you don’t know how to say word, pick a different one. Anyway, please. Round up something has been brought to my attention. Okay. We have a new word or phrase. Really bear minimum Monday. I think, I think I have a feeling it is what it says on the tin.

Um, but yeah, this was a, a TikTok creator called Marissa Joe, who went viral, um, picked up by a b ABC news and everything, by speaking about this phrase on a series of posts.

And I think this is an example of where, you know, we might see a headline of, of Gen Zs want bare minimum Mondays, and we be like, how godammit, how dare you not wanna work on a Monday?

I’m not saying that what Marissa is saying is, rather than overwhelm yourself on a Monday and create this sense of dread going into, into a Monday morning, which is actually a, a signal of burnout potentially. So be mindful. Um, but it’s actually, let’s make it set ourselves some real expectations. Let’s try and set ourselves tasks that either are gonna set up our week or provide us for energy for the rest of our week.

It seems like a sensible way of managing work and time. To me

Al: so there’s a, there’s a great book called The One Thing by Gary something. I will try and link to it in the, in the show notes. Um, and it’s basically saying, look, when you start off every single day, you go, what’s the one thing I have to do today in order to achieve the one thing I’ve gotta do this week and the one thing I’m gonna do this month and the one thing I’m gonna do this quarter, et cetera, et cetera.

I am making a hash of the way that he, he’s, he’s, he’s basically described this, but it is a brilliant book and it is essentially that going, look, what’s your, what’s the priority? Because there’s a couple of weird things. There’s another book called, um, eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, I think. And it’s basically saying, look, do the worst thing on your to-do list first.

And then you go, if I just do nothing else, I’ve done that one thing, which is cool for two reasons. First of got rid of the horrible thing. He talks about ease, the analogy of eating, swallowing a frog. Um, if you do that one thing, but then he also, you kind of go, oh, that wasn’t so bad, so now I might as well do the other two or three things on my list.

And it’s just, yeah, just works. What else you got Leah?

Leanne: Uh, well, as you, well, now it is Women’s history month at the moment. Um, and I’ve saw a couple of things pop up this week around the, the gender pay gap and pay transparency. Uh, there’s some new re research that’s been done.

An organization called viya. They looked over 50 million. Employee records are a pretty big sample here, um, and we’re still, we’re still showing it a pay equity gap. And sadly that seemed to be getting worse. So in 2017, women were paid roughly 85 cents in the dollar compared to their male co counterparts.

Um, and as of 2023, that has fallen from 85 cents to 84 cents. That might not feel significant, but obviously that we do not want these things to trend downwards. Potential solution that has been talked about as well is around, pay disclosure laws that are currently coming into place, across the USA and various states.

Basically saying that if you advertise a job, you have to say how much money you’re going to pay that person. Sounds fairly straightforward, but organizations are very apprehensive to do this because of course if they can negotiate lower salaries for some people, whether they’re women or not, then they aren’t gonna save money.

But as the world of work is changing, this strategy may no longer be sustainable cuz we are finding out in terms of how pay transparency influences applicant behavior, 82% of US workers are more likely to consider applying for a job if the pay range is listed.

Al: That’s a good point. That’s a good point. So pay transparency. What else we got, Leah? Finally,

Leanne: I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal this week, which is talking about having, um, as a cure for quiet, quitting. Do we need collaborators or do we need rs? And I thought this fitting quite nicely with our conversation today.

So what the basic saying is that if we have a colleague who is vying for the same promotion as Azures or a peer that’s pushing us to outperform, is that going to improve our, our, um, sense of motivation, therefore our sense of belonging, therefore our organizational commitment and reduce our tendencies to quiet quit.

But how do we create healthy rivalry in teams and how do we balance that? And the answers seem to be from the, the most recent research is that we need to develop what is called a shared group identity with your competitors. So it’s kind of what you’ve always said about sales teams are, you know, you’ve got, you’ve got your own agenda and you’ve got your own targets you wanna hear, but ultimately you’re all working towards the same goal.

So researchers tried to look into this and, and they bid a really cool experiment with video games. So people played like two rounds where you could win cash prizes, um, and either one for attacking enemies, um, or defending your territory. And in round one, other players were on your team. And in round two, the other players were York competitors.

So they were trying to figure out what came, what comes first, cooperation or competition, does it matter?

So what they found is that if in the first round people competed with, with each other, then in the second round, it was really, really difficult for them to work as a team. Um, they were pretending to get along, but they still kind of hoarded key information for themselves. But the opposite was true and the other way round.

So if they, if they were a team first and then competed, um, then that shift was much more, much more comfortable. Um, and it did kind of turn into this kind of adoption of, of pattern of friendly rivalry. So I think it’s interesting from a business perspective that if you are looking to create this healthy rivalry, it’s actually starting with, with like prioritizing the team relationships first and then kind of looking at, at kind of competitive side of it rather than, than the competition first.

I thought that was quite interesting.

Al: Yeah, very interesting. Thank you very much for the news Roundup, Leanne.

So let’s get back into the main show. We have such series of questions that we wanted to answer in this one. So, first of all, I, I want to know what is the superstar effect and is it different to a toxic superstar? Then we, we wanna look into what the truth and lies are of hiring superstars once we’ve hired them.

How do we manage them?

And then actually, should we even be recruiting su uh, superstars at all? Should we even be looking for superstar talent? Should we just be going for average talent? And finally all around the teams, why is it important to shift our focus from individual to team performance? How do we build these diverse teams and the last question, which is one from Tom, is how do we protect the culture as we grow?

Leanne: Yes. Lots of interesting questions today, and some answers that may seem a little counterintuitive. So let’s dive in with this superstar effect. It seems reasonable to think that recruiting superstars, or a plus talent is another kind of popular phrase.

It’s used, it seems reasonable to think if we recruit these people, it’s gonna improve our performance of our teams, of our business and generate some healthy rivalry, right?

Al: The super, ah, so that doesn’t make sense. So what exactly is this superstar effect?

Here’s Ryan to explain.

All Guests: So the superstar effect is this sort of, uh, strange phenomenon where when you bring in a superstar or hire a superstar, you would think that it would raise the level of your team, right? That your team would dramatically improve. And the superstar effect is a situation where you’re bringing in that superstar actually degrades the performance of those who are around, right?

So it actually lowers the team performance. And there’s some. Examples of this in, in the world of sports. Um, and in some cases they don’t hurt your team, they actually help your team. But I’ll, but I’ll, I’ll, I’ll sort of differentiate that here in a second. So one example from the world of sports is, is Tiger Woods.

When Tiger Woods, um, sort of emerged on the golf scene, he was so dominant in these winning so many tournaments that, um, there were some researchers who’d done a bunch of analyses of golfers who played with Tiger Woods, um, that it turns out that just playing with Tiger Woods or playing in the same tournament where Tiger Woods was playing, people actually scored worse on average when he was in the tournament.

So just his presence alone put enough pressure on people that they, that they performed worse.

But there are cases where you bring a superstar onto your team and it actually degrades the performance of those people who are around because they feel more nervous, they feel more pressure, they feel, um, that they have to step up in a way, uh, to show that they’re a superstar as. There’s a whole host of factors that go on psychologically when, when a superstar gets added to a team.

Um, and so that’s one of the , that’s one of the, the sort of ironies about a superstar effect. You might think that, oh, you know, by adding Tiger Woods in the field, um, that’s gonna sort of raise everyone’s level. They’re gonna feel like, oh, we have to play even better and we’re gonna be more challenged than they’re gonna play even better.

But in fact, it’s the opposite, right? People, um, try too much or they pushed for too much and, and they get worse. And the same thing can happen on our, on our own, um, our own teams as well, right?

Al: That’s really interesting because if you think back to, for example, mad Men, one of my favorites TV series when Peggy comes in and just, Peggy is just incredible as a copywriter. Um, then yeah, you would expect, oh, well everyone else is going to, is gonna rise above. But then there’s that kind of thing called the tall poppy syndrome, isn’t it?

Where apparently poppies were, if, if a poppy grows too tall, then the other puppies that are strangling and bring it down. Whether that’s true. I heard it from Tony Robbins when I was walking on fire about 15 years ago. Um, but , but the, but this, this idea, um, that it doesn’t necessarily sort of translate, which is really counterintuitive.

Leanne: Yeah, I mean it does, it seems intuitive, doesn’t it, that in the presence of greatness, we’re gonna feel inspired and we’re gonna feel motivated. But as Ryan says that that is not, not the case. It’s the opposite.

So what’s happening in our psychology that in some circumstances, but actually reacting negatively to the superstar, what’s going on? I asked Ryan his thoughts based on both his research and his.

Al: his.

All Guests: There’s another interesting case with, uh, this chess player, Magnus Carlson, uh, where basically because of computers, you can analyze every move and you can decide if this was the right move or the wrong move, or, or you can actually sort of quanti quantify the quality of that move.

Was that how, how, how good was that move, uh, in a sort of quantitative, uh, way? Sometimes Magnus makes a bad move and people fall into the trap of assuming it must be a good move because Magnus, who’s the world champion, uh, because he made that move, it must be good.

And so they don’t take advantage of the, the mistakes that he makes because they think that he must see deeper than they do. So they look at it and they’d go, Hmm, it looks like to me like a bad move, but if he played it, it must actually be a good move and I’ve gotta figure out why. And, and it ends up actually playing sort of into his advantage even when he makes those mistakes.

So, So that’s part of it is that, that right, we sort of psych ourselves out, right? We, we, um, fool ourselves into, into thinking about things in a, in a different way when that super, when that superstar is nearby,

Al: This is really interesting and I think I’ve seen this in action. I used to have a web design agency, um, and I used to go and look at some of the other creative design agencies websites and go, oh my God, that’s amazing. Look at how it scrolls horizontally and how the Mouse point has got a little something that follows it and whatever.

I used to think, oh my God, I’m never gonna be as good as these guys when actual fact, just because they were a creative agency, their website was probably a bit shit . It was really difficult to use and, but I assumed it was just brilliant because they were cre a creative agency and they were above me.

Leanne: me.

Yeah, and I think that’s a funny thing, isn’t it? We attach so much prestige and admiration to people who are experts or phenomenal or kind of leaders in their field, but we’re, you know, we can forget sometimes that they’re human . They too make mistakes as well. Um, so yeah, and it’s interesting, isn’t it? So what does that mean for, for our teams then?

Because we do hear a lot about businesses, um, you know, taking that approach to a plus talent teams of superstars. So what impact does the Superstar effect have on our business? Ryan explains that there are several possible impacts.

All Guests: Maybe some of the talent will leave. Some of the talent will go, I’m not as valued here. Maybe I’ll go somewhere else. Um, others, uh, uh, other examples that, that we see happening, um, in the United States. Many years ago, in the 1960s, there was, um, this sort of event, there was the Cuban Missile Crisis, uh, which was kind of a disa well, that, that event was kind of a successful, but prior to that was the sort of the May of pigs, um, sort of a attempted coup of, of, of Cuba that was really put together by what people thought of at the time as this group of geniuses, right?

That the United States had created this between John Kennedy and several members of the cabinet that had created this sort of, um, super think group, right? That this group knew more than anybody else. They were the smartest people, and they were brilliant strategists. Basically we can do no wrong because we have so much talent gathered together, and that’s not the trap that we can fall into with the superstar effects.

We can go, well, we’ve got so much talent that whatever decision we make must be a good decision. Right? And you can actually fall into this trap called groupthink where you all go, oh yeah, this must be a good decision because we came up with it. And that can happen. You know, if you have a superstar or even multiple superstars, again, people might not question the superstar’s idea, right?

You bring in a new superstar. The new superstar says, we should do this. Even if, sort of fundamentally you go, boy, I don’t know if that makes any sense In our business, um, we, we tend to go, well, but this person’s a superstar, so let, let’s go with what they have to say. So we, we tend to not question or push back as much against them, and which can lead into the trap of, of, um, sort of, uh, making, making pretty serious blunders, uh, as an organiz.

Al: But you didn’t think that we’ve been, we’d be talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis and this

podcast episode.

Leanne: couldn’t know. I couldn’t know. I could not have anticipated that. But yeah, I think it’s an interesting example. And I think, you know, we see this in all sorts of, of groups. You know, it’s almost as well as kind of diffusion of responsibility.

Um, that’s kind of a socio psychological term where a person is basically less likely to take responsibility, um, for action or inaction when there are other bystanders or, or witnesses present, uh, present. So if we have these other experts with us, um, this diffusion of responsibility is, is, um, Carl says to kind of react or intervene, um, is significantly reduced.

And what’s also interesting as well, this is one of the big, um, criticisms of, of creating psychologically safe environments. Actually we, you know, we always say there’s no, there’s no kind of, Absolute intervention and absolute thing to do. It all comes with it. Well, maybe it depends. Um, but yeah, some research in psychological safety, um, found, and this is from 2011, found that psychological safety can also incubate on ethical behavior as there is a lower fear of being judged.

Al: That makes sense because if you, if everyone’s got a voice and it’s okay to say your opinion, then you might be more inclined to, to be a little bit more unethical, um, because you know, everyone’s got your back. So they’re looking after you

Leanne: you.

Al: So we were going back to Martin and Fidel. We asked their thoughts on recruiting the superstars.

Martin explained that in their research and their experience, that they, that approaching teams as a whole rather than, uh, individuals in a team is a great starting place.

All Guests: And we’ve developed a kind of audacious team dna, uh, if you like. So when we look at, um, you know, and be an audacious team partner, uh, there, there’s four key things that, uh, that we look at, um, that then we, we work with teams on, uh, as well around it, I thinking framework that we’ve, we’ve, uh, developed.

Um, and essentially the first thing is, is being all purposeful. So we found that to be an effective team. The common trait there is that they have a very clear purpose. Um, and not only do they have a very clear purpose, but the individuals within that team are aligned to that purpose. So their individual purpose is aligned to the, to the team purpose.

So that’s number one. Um, the second thing is that they’re bold. So, you know, they’re not, they’re not afraid to try new things. Um, they’re not afraid to, to fail, you know, they, they will experiment and they create an environment as well, uh, where they can challenge each other, um, and, and they can, you know, they can really try new things.

Uh, the third is being curious. So being curious about, uh, each other within the team. I think this is sometimes often missed. Uh, in, in large organizations. We assemble a team and we immediately get on with the project in hand instead of learning about each other and how we can really leverage, uh, the strengths, the superpowers that each individual brings.

Um, and obviously if we don’t. If we’re not curious about each other to start with, then we’re not going to, to, uh, understand, uh, how each other works and what the, what the superpowers are. And then lastly, uh, is, uh, diverse. So you know, how, you know, being a diverse team, uh, being inclusive, uh, where, you know, everybody is allowed to, to join, but more importantly, tap it into that diversity as well.

Um, so it’s a really creating an environment, you know, the terms, uh, that lots of people use around psychological safety, but you know, really creating that environment, uh, that, uh, that people can, uh, express their ideas and their diversity of thought, um, and, and bring it to the tables.

Leanne: I think that’s a really useful, kind of overarching way to look at it, is rather than necessarily think about recruiting individuals that are gonna contribute to performance, how do we, how do we structure our teams? How do we nurture our teams to perform, you know, as superstars collectively? I think that’s a really, really great start and place to think about it.

Al: great, yeah, and I think the idea of having a shared, uh, Martin just said there, there was boldness, shared purpose, diversity, and curiosity.

Well, if you are a superstar already, you’re probably not curious anymore because you think that you know it all. Um, shared purpose, no, you’re probably just looking to be Right. , so you’re, so, you’re already 50% of that. You, you are out. So, um, so you can see why, uh, why you might have problems integrating a, a superstar into a team of, I don’t wanna say non superstars, but.

Leanne: superstars, but

Al: people like me. So Fidel went on to explain that thinking about teams in this way is helpful for leaders when they’re looking to leverage the talent of every team member to achieve the performance objectives. And in this context, you need to ask yourself as a leader, what does a plus talent or superstars look like for me and my business? Here’s for Dell to explain more.

All Guests: The, the thing is that what is an A plus talent? And one could say, well, a plus talent is someone that is a high achiever. Is a is someone that in a previous organization, in a previous role, uh, has done something that is, uh, remarkable. It could be something that someone that is very knowledgeable, uh, technically, uh, knows at all

so it’s not about himself or herself. It’s about how do I leverage these unique talents that each one of my team members have. So if we are talking about this , about this people, this type of, of personality, we want many of them because in a way this a plus talent. What is going to do is to make the team better is going to push, the team is going to.

Make the team, uh, feel this connection to the purpose. Feel the belonging, feel, the psychological safety that, that Martin was taking, uh, talking about to, to express themselves, to put their ideas forward. So we want more, more of those.

Al: Martin

Leanne: has some thoughts on what it means to be a, a team of superstars in the world of work in 2023.

All Guests: So high performance teams and how to get high performance teams comes up a lot. Uh, and interestingly, I think, uh, so a lot of academics recently, um, you know, especially in the kind of team coaching space, which, uh, obviously were, were very active in.

Um, so, uh, there, there’s people out there like Peter Hawkins, uh, et cetera, actually trying to who, who promoted high performance teams, um, and are actually changing, uh, track a little bit and talking about adding added value teams. And really what that means is that, you know, cuz high performance, if you’re a team and you want to be high performing, then that, that instantly creates competition

so I think there’s a change in thinking as well to say, well, actually is, is that the right approach or do we want teams that actually add value to other teams, uh, out outside of their own teams? And, and I think that applies to both the team and then also individuals within the team. So, you know, we talk a lot about, uh, kind of superstars and then high performing teams and, you know, having super teams.

But actually in our experience, uh, the best teams. Are the ones that you know, don’t necessarily have the superstars that, that, you know, are really able to, to crack it Sometimes the, the superstar teams, if you like, are the ones that, that have the biggest challenge to, to really be a high performing team,

Leanne: it is an interesting shift and we’re seeing that in culture as well. Rather than talking about culture fit, we’re talking about culture ad. Um, and I think it’s, yeah, it’s, it is an important shift that that’s happening. Um, so interesting to hear that it is also happening, um, in the world of team coaching as well.

But before we dive further into teams, let’s take it back to the individual. So we now know what the superstar effect is, but there is another term that’s used in psychology, um, which you may have heard of, and that is toxic superstars. So what are toxic superstars? How can we spot them and what does it mean for an organization and its performance?

Here’s Ryan.

Al: Wayne.

All Guests: When we’re talking about superstars, we really are talking about top performers, right? People who are really, um, generating lots of productivity and revenue for, for the organization. But of course there is this sort of scenario, uh, of, of toxic superstars, and you see that, again, it’s very frequent. You see that in sports, right?

Or in athletics where some superstar comes in with a, with a pretty large ego, uh, you know, big expectations and kind of ruins the organization because, um, you know, they forget that in many cases these are team events and that you have to get along with your team to, to be successful. Um, and so, so yeah, that, that is a sort of a, a little separate category where you can be a superstar in terms of your talent, um, but sort of toxic in, in terms of those interpersonal behaviors.

And that’s, Sort of go back to one of the earlier topics, what, what personality is all about, right? So in some respects, it’s very easy to evaluate, uh, you know, someone’s productivity talents, right? You know, I just like in athletics, they measure all kinds of things about people. You know, how far you can throw, how fast you can run, how hard you can kick.

All of those kinds of things are very easy, easy to measure. Um, the, the more challenging thing to measure is how are you’re gonna get along with the other people that you work with? And, and that’s what personality is really all about. It’s the same thing in the, in the business world, right? So we can see where did you get your degree from, uh, how many years of experience do you have?

Uh, which, you know, uh, mega corporations or jobs have you had in the past, right? All of those kinds of things are really easy, right? What to, to sort of measure up what are your qualifications in that regard? But how you’re gonna get along with other people turns out to be really, really important. And it’s, it’s just a lot trickier to measure than just looking at somebody’s resume.

Leanne: All of this. We’re getting into the juice a bit now. Personality and behavior. I was, when I was re-listening back to Ryan, I was thinking about PJ Brady from last week, um, who was talking about the difference between Nelson Mandela and Donald Trump. You know, both very ambitious people manifested in very, very different ways.

And it’s the same with employees, especially people were tagging as superstars. How do you know if you’re recruiting a Mandela or a Trump? And if we don’t dive deeper into the psychology of applicants, uh, we, we might not know at all. And this is where psychometrics can play a really useful part in helping us to understand how people get on with other people, how they’ll interact within our business.

Typically psychometrics will help us find the risk factors, but there are also some moderating traits and behaviors aspects of our personality that help us to enact or choose behaviors that are more positive and effective in working together, um, and getting the job done. I’m not gonna dive too much now in the moment in terms of kind of the risk factors of personality and how they’re moderated.

We talk about this a lot on a couple of episodes and I will link them in the show notes. So I asked Ryan, what is perhaps an example of a moderating factor or moderating behavior that we can observe in superstars that are gonna suggest they are more likely to work effectively with our teams and within our organization?

All Guests: Well, so a few things that seem to show up are, one is, is really good coaching, right? So. If you have a coach who can sort of get that superstar to cooperate with, with, with the other folks, that seems to be, to be really valuable.

So one of the things that we talk about from a personality standpoint is something known as coachability. Um, that is some people are just more coachable than others. Some people listen to feedback. Some people adopt feedback. They take that feedback right away and they try to incorporate that, um, to improve their performance.

Other people go, no, I don’t need your feedback. No thanks. I already know what I’m doing. I’m better than you. I know more than you do. And, uh, that turns out to be a huge individual difference in, in terms of how teams end up performing, particularly when you bring in a superstar. So that’s one of the. That I would be looking for and bringing in superstars says, how coachable are they?

If they’re a superstar, but they’re uncoachable, they’re just gonna do their own thing. They’re gonna do whatever they want. Maybe it’ll be successful, maybe it’ll be a failure. But, um, if you’ve got a superstar and they’re coachable, then, right?

If you have real talent, right, you know, just like sheer cognitive capacity can solve all kinds of problems, can understand markets, can and can sort of almost see the future in some respects, and they’re coachable then, then you have real potential from a business standpoint.

Al: So all I could think about when Ryan was talking, there was Steve Jobs, like an incredible person, but just wouldn’t, he’s totally uncoachable.

He’s like, no, everyone wants the iPhone. He’s like, well, what evidence have you got for that? Well, I know, and the fact is he did know and he was a genius, but also he didn’t really talk about Lisa. This the, the computer that he released when he left Apple. That was Doc

Leanne: shit,

Al: It was awful. It would look horrible.

It was horrible to use, et cetera, et cetera. So yes, he’s not a coachable. Uh, and I love this idea that if you are amazing and you are coachable, then this is like a key factor in turning an individual superstar into someone who’s going to be part of an amazing team. Fidel agrees.

All Guests: How do you help this person to, uh, become more aware that is not about him or her? Or how do you help the team to become more aware that actually maybe with this high performer, we can win game, but we are not going to win the league because to win the league, we, we need the team and, and this is this type of, of experience.

So one of the exercise that we are going to do always with anything, is going to be about purpose and about talent. The, the, those unique, uh, hidden talents, those superpowers. And what we are trying to align here is, you know, what is the direction of traveling? Where are we going? And making sure that everyone understands that.

So effectively we don’t know each other very well. And because we don’t know each other very, very well, one is probably, you know, Have the level of, um, of understanding the level of, um, even caring about the person, but two, you cannot leverage that. But, but I, I think those, those simple activities should happen, uh, all the time.

And, and, and I say all the time or we say all the time because again, we recognize that teams are, uh, dynamic of fluid entity and people comes and goes, projects change. And, and so you really need to continuously readjust,

Al: So if I’ve understood Fidel correctly there, what we’re talking about there is if someone is self-aware, then they’re a easier to, to coach, but b, also be aware of or have the awareness of what other people in their team have got the superpowers and so therefore the whole team can become amazing.

Leanne: Yeah, I agree. I think it is that exactly what you said, they’re probably more light to engage in more authentic relationships, find out more about their, their peers and and their colleagues, what their strengths are, um, and then leverage those for the, the overall good of, of the team. So is, you know what I think what we’re kind of surmising from everything, surmising is our word.

Al: It’s his is a fancy word.

Leanne: Might be the first time I’ve ever used that in a sentence.

Al: So

Leanne: I guess what was SMI from this is that yes, we can have superstars, but they’re gonna have to be coachable. Otherwise they might cause more trouble in their worth and actually, What is a superstar?

Do we just want somebody who is coachable, self-aware, brings their own skills, um, and engages authentically with with others that are team players?

Al: players. So if I’m hearing this correctly, then it sounds like superstars are really tough to manage unless they are coachable, which my gut instinct says that there’s a fewer who are coachable than, than, than, than the the majority.

So what’s the message here? Do we stop recruiting these superstars and just recruit average talent instead is mediocrity this new superpower? We asked Ryan.

All Guests: Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, right. So there, there are certainly advantages that superstars bring, right? I mean, if, I think if you look at um, you know, other sort of sporting outlets like, um, The NBA has a long tradition of if, if you hire a superstar, that your wins and loss record can totally turn around, right?

So, uh, LeBron James is a clear example of that with a variety of teams that he’s gone to, has turned them from big losers to big winners just by adding him to the team. So, so there, there are real advantages to, to having superstars as well. But what I would say, and there’s, there’s some research on this done by some, some economist, actually a beautiful paper, all about personality.

, where, uh, they, they look at, um, in this case they’re looking actually at the opposite. They’re looking at toxic workers. And what they’ve done is they’ve actually gone to a bunch of organizations. They’ve quantified, you know, sort of worker, uh, whether it’s a person’s a superstar or or worker toxicity, is this a person that’s sort of a toxic worker?

And then they’ve actually quantified what’s the value to the organization of the these different individuals. And what they found was that in the best case scenario, Um, getting rid of a toxic worker was worth hiring four superstars. So think about the value that a superstar brings to your organization. And you would need to hire four superstars to make up for one really toxic, bad worker, right? One worker who’s creating, you know, creating disengagement among the organization who’s really down talking organization, who’s sort of uninspiring, uh, you know, to, to, to use sort of, I don’t know if that’s a made up term, um, but, but, but he is sort of actively, uh, um, destroying the organization from within.

Um, You’re better off getting rid of that person than hiring, than than hiring four superstars. You would need to hire four superstars to make up four for that, and that’s in the best case scenario. Other estimates suggest 12, that it’s a 12 to one ratio that you would need to hire 12 superstars to make up for that one toxic worker.

So, um, uh, so it’s not so much, I would say well avoid hiring superstars, but I would actually say that you get more bang for your buck by looking out for those who are or have the potential to, to toxify your, your workplace.

Leanne: That’s, that’s an unbelievable bit of research that, isn’t it? So just to, just to kind of really bring that point home, you would need to hire four superstars, minimum four superstars to make up for one really toxic worker in terms of everything, culture and performance.

That’s just, it’s when you hear it like that, like it, it’s, as a business leader, it makes toxicity completely unacceptable within your business.

And that’s not just even from a human perspective and you know, the, you know, in, in making sure that we’re protecting culture, but it’s just bad for business.

Al: So can I just ask, so I just, we’ve talked a lot about sort of average talent, toxic, superstar, superstar, and now when, when Ryan’s talking about the toxicity there, is he talking about a toxic superstar or is he talking about a toxic normal,

Leanne: Potentially both. So superstars and, and norms, like me, I’m a normal, I’m not superstar. Um, we, we all have the, the potential to be toxic if we find ourself in an environment that for whatever reason isn’t, isn’t matching our values or expectations, or there’s, there’s other things going on. Um, you know, unless we are, have some kind of clinical psychopathology going on, then it’s probably just, you know, a case of our, our environment.

But, um, but yeah, we all have the, the potential to be toxic. And these, you know, these toxic

Al: behaviors can

Leanne: can manifest in all sorts of ways. I guess the most obvious one is bullying. Bullying is a very toxic behavior that, that, you know, translates very quickly to a toxic culture. What we mean by toxic culture is when these, these tolerated negative behaviors are impacting how people think and feel about the organization in the worst possible way.

Al: organization.

That makes sense. So I, I think what, where we’re at now, hopefully I’m with the listener, our learning as we go along, but the whole idea now is that we now know that we’ve got superstars, we’ve got normal, and we’ve got tos due, which both of these people can fall into. Um, so what do we need to do within our recruitment practice to recruit great talent that’s gonna result in high performance, but isn’t going to result in neither toxicity or this superstar.

Leanne: effect?

Yes. And I asked the exact question to Ryan.

All Guests: Yeah. So a couple of things. I mean, obviously the, the first thing that everybody does is they, they take a look at your resume. They take a look at, um, that, that, that sort of, um, Sort of raw talent, I guess kind of factors, right? Um, but I think to, to me, the, the, the more important thing to do, once you’ve evaluated that, once you’ve said, okay, this person’s clearly qualified, this person has a ton of strengths that they would bring to our organization in terms of their knowledge, their background, their experience.

The next thing I think that you want to do is understand, okay, is this person going to , uh, be coachable? Is this person going to ruin our organization with, with a sort of toxic, uh, personality or some set of personality characteristics that basically rub people the wrong way? That, that, that cause a lot of interpersonal friction.

Um, and so the only way to do that is to use, uh, a really, uh, good, uh, scientifically based personality assessment. I mean, and I would want one. goes to, uh, pretty extensive depth, right? I, I wouldn’t want one that’s like, you know, just gonna give me four terms or, or four scores. I want something that’s gonna go into, uh, a lot of depth because I really wanna understand how is this person in total gonna fit with this organization?

Again, what are the things that they might do that might annoy or irritate somebody who’s in my organization right now?

And how can we rey that? And, and again, that question I mentioned earlier, how coachable is this person? You can actually pick that up from, from the right combination of scales on a personality assessment, um, and think, okay, are we gonna be able to coach this person? And is this person gonna be able to fit with, with where we’re going in in the future?

And all of that shows up in the personality assessment. You’re not gonna see that on the.

Leanne: Personality assessments really do give you such a, a different view of, of somebody’s experience and, and behavior. And I know the clients that I’ve worked with are, are usually quite, they, I guess, I think some of them think it’s some kind of crystal ball and you’re like, how did you know that? It’s like, because they told me they filled this psychometrics and we, you know, we work together to, to understand it.

There’s, but it, it’s these tools that can pull out these things from people that they might not be as willing to put on their resume, um, or, or say in an interview or even given the opportunity to.

So yeah, psychometrics are a really good way of kind of enhancing your, your recruitment practices and the effectiveness of those. So we know that we can use personality to assess how somebody will perform in a particular role and within the wider organization or the team, but what’s the risk factor here?

I asked Ryan, is there a danger that we’re going to recruit people into our businesses that are just like us, simply because they’re going to be easier to get on with.

All Guests: That, that’s a, it’s a question we get all the time, right? So one of the questions is, well wait a minute. Isn’t personality assessment isn’t that just creating clones, right? You’re just saying you just want to clone your really productive workers, uh, and that’s it. You just, you just want little clones inside your organization.

And that’s actually not true. In fact, personality assessments are the thing that really sort of celebrate how individually different we all are, let’s say we’re all different in, in particular ways. Typically, what’ll happen in, in a, with a, with a typical client, like let’s say it’s a, it’s a role where, um, you know, safety is critical, right?

Where we, we know we don’t want people who take risks. We don’t want people who, um, who skirt around the edges. Um, and, and personality predicts really well the, the kinds of people who are gonna do those kinds of things. And, and it’s okay to take risks. It’s okay to skirt around edges, it’s just not okay to do in certain jobs, right?

And. So, um, the, the, the point is that for, for that particular characteristic, that it’s critical for the job, we know that that’s an important part of the job. It’s really, uh, critical for the company to have people who, who, uh, behave in a way that’s like that, in that job. We might select on that one characteristic.

But, um, you know, in our own assessments, there’s more than a hundred characteristics that we evaluate. Um, and so we might be selecting on one or two or three characteristics for a particular role, but all of the other characteristics are allowed to vary. Um, and it doesn’t really matter. You can be very talkative and very sociable, or you can be very quiet and very shy.

But if it’s not relevant for that job role, then that’s okay. We don’t, we don’t select for, for people on that. So it doesn’t create the situation where we have a lot of clones. In fact, it creates a situation where you have a lot of diversity. What you have is, is clone on the thing that’s really, really critical for the job, which is really related to job performance, but everything else is, is allowed to vary.

Leanne: A couple of things I think I wanna, I wanna kind of pick up on what Ryan said there. One, he’s making it very clear that we are choosing or we’re analyzing personality traits that are gonna predict job performance. So when recruiting, think to yourself, do I need somebody who is extrovert and talkative and, and chatty and, you know, are gonna bring lots of energy to the team if their job actually requires them to be very analytical and reflective.

And, and I think this is sometimes a trap that businesses get into and, and why some of them struggle to, to find invert coms great talent is because they’re looking for, for candidates that either don’t exist in the world, um, or there’s no reason to ask for those traits and those qualities to do that job.

And this disconnect just kind of completely weakens the impact of our, our job advert and our, our employer brand in the market. And I think the second thing there as well, you know, Ryan said that, personality assessments help us celebrate how individually different we are.

I would like to paraphrase that or, or change that slightly. Good personality assessments celebrate how individually different we are. And this is why I have beef with Mayas Briggs for any kind of recruitment strategy because there are only 16 types with a, you know, a trait-based personality inventory.

Like, um, you know, the, the types that Hogan have developed, there are an infinite number of, of possibilities and combinations of, of traits and how individual people are, is Ryan unexplained. Um, putting people in a box of 16 is not celebrating individual differences. It’s not celebrating, uh, diversity. Um, and at very best you’re probably cloning people that are just like you.

Al: so the opposite of clothes is having diversity.

So with so many stats out there saying My business will do better with more diverse team, how easy is it actually for business owners to recruit for diversity

All Guests: we all talk about diversity. We all talk about inclusion, we all talk about equality. Um, And I think, uh, we are still not being able in general to leverage the diversity that we have in our teams. Our interest is more on the diversity from a, uh, thinking perspective. So your diversity of thought that is influenced by your experiences, your life, your family, your values, et cetera, et cetera. And, and it, it starts from there, from the recruitment stage

So what happens in the end is that through our, our recruitment process, probably and intentionally, what we are trying to, uh, to promote are values and behaviors that are exactly the same as the ones that we have in the organization. So that is opposite to diversity to me.

Al: I

Leanne: I use the word intent a lot on this podcast, and I think this is another example of intention. What, you know, having a clear intention as a leader being really important. Yes, we can read a study and see that diversity translates to all sorts of benefits within, or organization, creativity, innovation, um, performance.

But again, it’s digging into that. It’s not to say if we recruit X number of black people, X number of women, X number of, of Neurodiverse people, therefore we will have a diverse culture journal, all work, and we’ll reap the benefits of this performance. It’s not, that’s not the, the kind of, the point. The point is, is by embracing diversity, by structuring your organization to recruit diverse people and diverse thinkers, then in that way we’re also gonna be doing the, the things we need to do to create this psychological safety.

And it’s that psychological safety that enables people to bring their whole self to work, their whole identity. And that’s what then translates into this diversity of thought. Um, and then these, these performance gains I think as well. And if this sounds really overwhelming and really intangible, and I get it.

I think it’s, is Fidel kind of rightly pointed out there, start with recruitment. Recruitment practices are the easiest things to get right within your business because it’s a science and it’s tried and tested processes, yet there are so many things that we are doing probably unconsciously, um, and we don’t realize it.

They’re excluding people from applying to our organization that, that in a type of diversity we want in our organization. For example, I was, um, I was talking to a colleague and they said to me, did you know that if at the bottom of your, um, job description that you are advertising. You simply put, um, candidates who do not meet all criteria are still encouraged to apply.

And what they found is doing that one thing, saw a massive uptick in the number of women and people of color, uh, that applied to that job. Something really simple, um, but, but yeah, had a massive impact.

Al: Yeah, and I think this is really overwhelming for someone who just goes, I just want someone to come and do the thing so I can, I can carry on, grow my business. So it is really overwhelming and I think that you, you made a good point there that, you know, if, if you’ve not done recruitment before, if you’ve done it a couple of times, you’re like, well, do I need psychometrics?

Can I not just stick an ad in the paper? Um, but then you also, when you start doing a bit more, you get more into the nitty gritty and you go, Hmm, yeah, maybe I’m not attracting as diverse a team as I want, but then you can go too far and go, right. Well, I absolutely need someone who’s from Indo-China.

I absolutely need someone who’s neurodiverse. So, you know, it’s, it’s a bit of a minefield for, for the normals like us who just go, I just want someone, you know, a really good team.

Leanne: Yeah. And I think, you know, it, it, it is, which is why I think starting with recruitment and just the, the very transactional aspects of it can be really helpful.

As simple as where do you advertise your jobs? Do you know there are plenty of job boards out there that will, you know, that have communities or people of, of color or neurodiverse people that, uh, more than likely gonna use these job boards as a, as a resource. Are you just advertising on LinkedIn? In which case that’s probably not gonna help you find this diversity of thought and talent.

Um, and equally, you know, you said that it can be overwhelming. I just need someone to do this for me. Well, good news is we can , that is one of the core services that we offer at, at our consultancy oblong. And the really cool thing about it as well is you only really need to do it once, unless you then have a significant change in your business, like a merger and acquisition.

Everything’s gonna be fairly stable and just need tweaks. So it’s one kind of of intensive, yet short, short project that’s gonna get all of your recruitment standardized, get it really robust, get you recruiting the right people, diverse people, um, and, and maybe the odd superstar. But if they are a superstar, they will be coachable, right?


Al: yep. That’s the rule. Um, if you are interested in, in getting lean to come and do something like that for you, then there’s loads of links in the show, notes of Way, it’s even a podcast, even an email.

I think that, uh, you’ll be able to contact Leanne and she’ll tell you a bit more about that. So going back to this idea of recruitment, once we’ve got people there, how do we create a culture where everyone feels valued and heard and able to contribute in their own unique way? Here’s Martin from adex.

All Guests: Oftentimes, you know, the best place is obviously to build a team, uh, from scratch, but, uh, that often isn’t the case. Uh, so, you know, working with teams to, uh, to really get, uh, get the best out themselves and, uh, to, to create that culture.

You know, it’s starting off, coming back to curiosity really, and, and, and being bold. Yeah. And I think it’s, you know, it’s often, it’s, it’s a very simple thing, but we often kind of miss it. Is, is just taking the time. And, and this is the problem that we find in, you know, in busy organizations is, is that we don’t have the time.

And so we’re very busy doing lots of other things that we don’t have the time to just spend getting to know each other, getting to know, uh, each other as individuals and then really exploring and saying, okay, you know, what can we do as, as a team? And in a way that’s why we use, um, you know, so we’ve really put long and hard about some of the metaphors that, uh, uh, that we’ve, we’ve chosen to really challenge teams in this way.

So, before we get into the nitty gritty and the projects, um, uh, is really okay, let’s take the time. How are we gonna operate as a team? So, so what’s, you know, what, first of all, let’s be curious about, uh, each other. So what does everybody bring to the table? Uh, you know, and then, and then figure out, uh, in the knowledge that every team is unique and different.

So, you know, one solution is, is not gonna fit. You know, you’ve gotta come up with your own solution. And how you are going to work as a team, uh, is then. What are the, the rules, if you like, that we, you know, we don’t like rules too much, but, but, you know, what are the, the ground rules that we’re gonna put in place for our own team?

But, but what is it where we can really leverage each other’s, uh, strengths That we can have an environment where, you know, nobody feels uncomfortable to speak up, where everybody can, can speak up, but really taking the time, I think, to, to set those, those ground rules, uh, and have that in place before, which we often see you get, you know, a few months in and then issues start arising.

Um, so I think it’s really. You know, and you can do this along the journey as well. So obviously there’s many teams that are already formed, but, you know, taking that time to really, uh, you know, learn about each other and figure out how, uh, you know, now as a team, uh, we’re going to operate, uh, going forward.

Al: Martin

Leanne: there as well is actually really good

Al: good

Leanne: technique, um, in terms of setting these ground rules, um, in terms of your culture. So if we have these values, what do these behaviors look like? What is acceptable, what is not acceptable? And in terms of leadership as well, you know, these leadership charts.

What are the ground rules? What does it mean to be a manager in this organization? What behaviors are we encouraging? What behaviors are we, are we absolutely not tolerating? And this all just helps people to, to not only kind of nurture these, these relationships, but also as Martin says, build this psychological safety.

Al: Fidel’s, a big fan of psychological safety and so he talks about how you can sort out your policies and ways of working to nurture that from day one.

All Guests: And I think, you know, um, the, the, the concept of psychological safety that, that Martin was explaining, um, again, this is, this is, uh, this is something that should come from the very beginning, from the psychological contract that we established with a person even before, before you sign your, your contract.

So this is the way that we operate here. This is, uh, a framework where we are able to challenge each other and we, we don’t challenge the individual. We challenge the idea. We challenge the, the, the, the argument, the premise and, and under the argument. So in that way we are really, uh, being. Individuals that can challenge and be challenged without feeling heard. We through that we, we generate this creativity. We believe that the winning is about winning as a team. The reward for the winning should be rewarded as a team as well. So you need to make sure that when we work with teams and we say all these things, the policies that are in the company sustain, uh, what, what, what we are saying or the way that we want to work.

Leanne: What I liked about Fidel’s point here is he’s kind of making a point that that culture and policy require each other. And equally if there’s some kind of disparity or difference between how, how we’re, you know, we say we’re gonna act and how we’re actually acting, uh, not only is that gonna impact, um, psychological safety negatively, but also probably employee engagement.

So, going back to the news roundup, uh, Roundup, for example, if you’ve got HR policy that says that, you know, quality and, and diversity, and we make sure that everyone is, is treated equally and with, you know, equitable pay and blah, blah, blah, yet you have a. 15% gender pay gap in your organization, then those two things aren’t connecting.

So there’s, there’s a lack of authenticity here. And I think it comes down to, you know, the same with with, with recruitment practices. If you are saying, we are a diverse organization, we celebrate diversity, yet you can’t answer the question, is my current recruitment practice bias? Then there is work to be done.

, so I think if you are really looking for a starting point in terms of diversifying your teams, in terms of nurturing these, um, these diverse cultures and these engaging cultures, start with your processes.

Do an audit of your processes. How are my, my current beliefs, my current policies reflected in my processes? Are my processes fair and free from bias as my values and policies tell me I should be.

And of course once we’ve, you know, we’ve, we’ve established these things and we have this culture, um, you know, culture can change. It is always a threat. There are some risks to our teams and our culture. I’m sure you’re familiar with Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group development forming, storming, norming, performing, uh, really classic model used in, in psychology.

Um, but it’s been extended now to kind of make the point that, you know, there will be a change and then there’ll be reforming, restoring rewarming. Um, because, you know, in this, in this world, nothing is certain and everything changes and even, you know, some of the most common and desirable changes that es face like growth, um, you know, that can also serve as one of the biggest risks to our, our teams, our performance and our culture.

So I asked Fidel, what can business leaders do to protect their culture?

Al: protect.

All Guests: Maybe it’s not about protecting. Um, I, I think that there’s, uh, there are values that there are core values that, uh, you will like to, to retain and to nurture and to, to. Improve to some degree, um, uh, as a culture, uh, if you are doubling the team, I think if the expectation is to is to keep the culture that you have with the, with the original team, I think we are starting to sacrifice the diversity of the, that brings the, the other half of the equation.

And, and I think, uh, you know, just be bold and curious and see what, uh, these, these people bring and see how we together build what now represents us. Because when, when we are trying to protect effectively we are trying to preserve our identity and we are trying to say, well, we are right and they are not so right. So maybe we need to show a little bit of vulnerability it happens all the time that the, the original team in a way. It triess to preserve their, their traits and identity. Um, I’m not so sure that that fits with the concept of the system.

Leanne: I think it can be really tempting as a, particularly as a business owner who’s still leading that organization. You know, if you’ve built a great culture in, in your first few years, you know, and, and you wanna grow from 20 to 30 to a hundred people, there can be a sense of. Responsibility to protect the culture and team that you’ve built.

But I think what Fidel’s saying there is really, really two things. One, your team needs to evolve with your business because the team you have today might not be able to fulfill what your business needs when it, it’s reached a hundred people and has that much more complexity around it. And two, I think it’s the danger of being too protective over this identity is that these new people coming in, it has a real danger of fostering this us and them mentality.

And I’ve seen that in businesses before that have grown quickly and haven’t been, you know, hasn’t been managed very well, or the people have been so, you know, holding onto this identities. It does create this. We are the OGs, you are the new people, this is how we do it. Um, and this is again, where all these microcultures start to breed from.

Um, so yeah, I think it can feel again, intuitive to want to protect your culture. Um, but I think the actual counterintuitive solution is. Don’t

That’s also what I really like about, um, about Odacs generation for Dell and Martin’s business, is that it really is about creating these experiences that allow us to explore ourselves as individuals. What, what our strengths are, what we, we see our strengths are, what other people see. Our strengths are how do we work together?

How do we define these roles? How do we have this, this shared purpose? How do we use our diversity to come up the best possible solutions? And they do it in the most fun way. So all D’S generation is all about these immersive experiences, like, like we said, building human towers and, and all these really cool things.

Um, it really is a great business. So we couldn’t finish the podcast without learning a bit more about Order X Generation and the services that Martin and Fidel.

Al: generation.

All Guests: And we call them audacious teams. And why are they audacious teams? Because they are pushing themselves to achieve something unbelievable with the resources that they have. . So they do maximize their resources. They do know how to unlock the, the talent that they have, the potential that they have in the team.

So if, if we are working with the human towers and they are going to be making human towers and, and the making of human towers, there, there are so many goals. So they might be part of the, of the, of the base. They might be climbing, they might be observing, they might be organizing.

If there is a place for everyone to be part of this massive experience.

Al: So Martin also explains how these experiences can build trust and in turn contribute to an inclusive and diverse culture.

All Guests: And I think just one other thing is, is the trust. So you know, if you can do all those things then, which we alluded to, then you, you create trust and. You know, that’s why we use the casters, for example, you know, human towers. If, if, if you don’t, you know, know each other’s super strengths and, and you don’t trust each other, then you know, you can’t build 10 floors high without, uh, ending in, in, in disaster.

Which, which I think is a, you know, often a good challenge to organizations, which, yes, you need, you know, policies and stuff in place, but sometimes, uh, we kind of get stuck behind those, those checklists and those policies and forget about the, you know, the human element.

Leanne: It’s such an innovative way to, to do team building, um, do have a look at at their website. And I think what’s particularly important about adex generation, how Martin and Fandel work. It’s not just about this one awesome day that people spend together in, you know, they bond and they have fun. They actually look at ways to take it forward, um, you know, to, to make sure that those, those changes are made when people go back to work on Monday.

Um, and of course they do that through coaching, helping people to realize what, you know, reflect on their experience, what they’ve learned about themselves, what they’ve learned about other people in their team, um, and what they can actually do to trigger the changes that are needed within the organization.

It’s a really, really, really cool company. We will leave all the links in the show notes. Do check it out, or Generat.

Al: out. Brilliant. So should we just quickly recap on the six things we’ve learned? Yes. Okay. So number one is don’t fall into the trap of recruiting superstars. There’s a bit more nuance around that.

Leanne: Yes, and I think to use psychometrics wisely, it is not enough to use psychometrics.

You need to be using the right psychometrics and in the right way.

Al: Number three, use team building experiences playfully.

Leanne: Yeah, I think it doesn’t always have to be that serious, you know? Um, you know, you can think about how you think about, you know, like, like tr hunt or orienteering or you know, you know, I used to do a really funny team building thing. Well, I icebreaker team thing, um, with my coaching clients.

So where we used to, um, two teams, one, both have an egg and you’ve got some tools like string and straw and paper and scissors. And you have to create some kind of like safety vessel for the egg and then you drop it from like a great height and see which one, it doesn’t always have to be that serious, you know, as long as you’re then reflecting on those behaviors, what we learnt, how can we apply this into our more serious work situation.

Uh, which I think brings us an onto nicely to 0.4, which is use coaching always.

Al: coaching. Number five, don’t protect your culture, evolve it.

Leanne: And number six, yes, there are recruitment practices that will help you build a diverse and inclusive team. Uh, but it’s as much about culture, diversity of thought, and how that is encouraged.

Uh, there’s no point in bringing somebody into your business if you don’t have an environment that’s gonna nurture them, uh, to, to use all their superpowers.

Al: superpowers. Brilliant. So thank you so much to all our guests, uh, Ryan Sherman from Hogan. Uh, his links will be in the show notes.

Martin Solway in Fidel Toro. I’m sorry, Fidel, I had another go at it. I don’t think I did. Don’t think I’ve got it right from the Odax generation. Links to those in the show notes.

Leanne: Yes. And join us next week as we’ll be wrapping up Women’s History Month with a very special episode. And I’m not gonna say anything more than that,

Al: even, I don’t know what it is.

Leanne: Bye

Al: bye-Bye for now. Bye.

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