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What Happens When You Hire a Dream Team?

You have heard of dream teams. There was the 1960s-70s folk rock group Crosby Stills Nash and Young, made up of star musicians. There was the American Olympic men’s basketball team of 1992. And then there was the team of lawyers who represented O.J. Simpson in his epic murder trial. In all three cases, lots of talent and skill in one place.
Dream teams come to mind because of a poster that hung on the wall at a school where I once coached. It was a composite picture of every team captain in the National Hockey League. These captains played different positions and they came from different countries, but all of them wore a “C” on their jerseys, designating them the leader of their team.
Being captain of a National Hockey League team is no small matter. It means that you have courage, leadership ability and real toughness.
But what if all of those players in the picture were somehow suddenly thrown into one big dream team? What would happen to each person’s status and role? In a previous blog we discussed distributions, that is, the natural tendency of personality traits to appear in various proportions in any organization.
For example, we discussed personality types in the classroom: Some students want to excel at everything they do, some are content with doing the bare minimum, others could do so much better if they just tried a little harder. And then there are those who just never seem to be in line with team aims.
In our imaginary dream team, what would happen when all these captains were thrown in with other captains? Who would rise and maintain a leadership position? Who would fall into the background? Who would resent the loss in status? Who would put aside personal wishes in favor of team goals?
This brings to mind the recent World Cup, in which Croatia sent Nikola Kalinic home when he refused to enter a game as a substitute. How could that happen on the world stage?
We can agree that any Olympic squad is a “dream team” made up of the very best players from a country. And Kalinic was one of those players. But for whatever reason, things did not work out. Not only did Kalinic miss out on the fun of Croatia’s run to the final match, but the memory of his insubordination will follow him everywhere. Even when the very best come together, there will be the leaders, followers and distractors.
I’m no expert on the 1992 U.S. Olympic dream team, or on Crosby Stills Nash & Young, or on O.J. Simpson’s Dream Team. But I would bet that some form of role adjustment, along with some conflicts, formed in those groups.
In future blogs we will explore the ratios that appear when people on any team sort themselves out.


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