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Thursday, December 10, 2015

What Happens To Teams When You Have "Too Much Talent"

The Surprising Problem of Too Much Talent

A new finding from sports could have implications in business and elsewhere

Cindi May | October 14, 2014

Why is too much talent a bad thing? Think teamwork. In many endeavors, success requires collaborative, cooperative work towards a goal that is beyond the capability of any one individual. Even Emmitt Smith needed effective blocking from the Cowboy offensive line to gain yardage. When a team roster is flooded with individual talent, pursuit of personal star status may prevent the attainment of team goals. The basketball player chasing a point record, for example, may cost the team by taking risky shots instead of passing to a teammate who is open and ready to score.

The idea that a pecking order is critical for success comes from, well, chickens. In order to maximize egg production, sellers selectively breed the chickens who lay the most eggs. But something goes terribly wrong when you place a high number of the best egg-producing chickens in one colony: Total cage-wide production plummets. And, even worse, chicken deaths skyrocket. Why? Because, the best egg producers also happen to be the most competitive birds, and when they are brought together, they begin fighting over food, space, and territory. They peck each other to death. For chickens, businessmen, and basketball players alike, high-levels of performance comes with high-levels of competitive spirit. These status conflicts drive performance down.

<more at; related links: (The Problem of Too Much Talent. It’s true of basketball players, businesspeople, and even baboons: When too many powerful personalities are present, discord ensues. September 30, 2015) and (The Too-Much-Talent Effect: Team Interdependence Determines When More Talent Is Too Much or Not Enough. Roderick I. Swaab, Michael Schaerer, Eric M. Anicich, Richard Ronay and Adam D. Galinsky. Psychological Science 2014 25: 1581 originally published online 27 June 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0956797614537280.[Abstract: Five studies examined the relationship between talent and team performance. Two survey studies found that people believe there is a linear and nearly monotonic relationship between talent and performance: Participants expected that more talent improves performance and that this relationship never turns negative. However, building off research on status conflicts, we predicted that talent facilitates performance—but only up to a point, after which the benefits of more talent decrease and eventually become detrimental as intrateam coordination suffers. We also predicted that the level of task interdependence is a key determinant of when more talent is detrimental rather than beneficial. Three archival studies revealed that the too-much-talent effect emerged when team members were interdependent (football and basketball) but not independent (baseball). Our basketball analysis also established the mediating role of team coordination. When teams need to come together, more talent can tear them apart.])>

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