Why Star Performers Can Undermine Your Team

In the comedy Kicking & Screaming, Will Ferrell, takes over a high school soccer team.

With no experience or talent they get hammered game after game.

But like all good managers, he doesn’t give up on his players. He encourages, motivates, and helps them all.

Except they keep losing.

Then, luck strikes.

He finds two Italian kids. Both incredibly gifted. Soon, his team is shooting up the table. They make the playoffs.

But as they climb up the table, some things changed.

The ‘we’re all in this together’ got lost.

Instead, it became:

Give it to the Italians!

The team agreed, but were upset.

It hurt.

They were only there to make up the numbers. All that mattered – Give it to the Italians!

Of course, the opposition twigged this.

Then Ferrell’s team get to the finals.

And this is where the moral dilemma kicked in.

His wife reminds him WHY he’d signed up to manage the team and how he’d become the type of manager he used to hate.

His dad.

Robert Duvall, the alpha male manager who wins at everything, plays his dad in the film, giving it a nice edge.

Give it to the Italians!

The final comes around.

And so does Ferrell.

Seeing how he’d betrayed his values, he subs the Italians and introduces his son from the bench. You can guess the ending.

So, what does this mean for you?

In the film, it’s played for laughs, but the message is there.

It’s about selling out, winning, and betrayal.

It’s also about:

  • Reliance – when you become too reliant on one thing, you’re betting the house on a single player. So, if your star performer leaves, suddenly you’re in trouble. Who do you turn to next? The team members you marginalized? Unlikely.
  • Competition — your competition has been watching you all along. If you stick to the same tactic for too long, they’re find ways to overtake you.
  • Values — what attracts people to support us, buy from us, vote for us is reflected in our core values. Our own True North. If you abandon these values, you attract different people. It might not be a problem today, but tomorrow…

Over to you.

How do you protect yourself from being too reliant on one thing?