If you played ‘ball’ sports, you know the concept of Hero Ball. It’s exactly what it sounds like. One guy or gal trying to be the hero of the team and doing too much, or not playing within the team concept. They want to be the hero! The hero doesn’t pass. The hero takes the big shot. The hero tries to win the game all by themselves.
Hero Ball is permeating almost every part of our worlds. You just can’t be friends with a group anymore, because one friend is trying to be ‘hero friend’. You can’t be a normal member of your church because someone is trying to be ‘hero practitioner’. And, yes, we are all seeing this at our workplaces!
Don’t blame the millennials. Heroes come in all ages, shapes, sizes and creeds!
I’m going to blame our celebrity culture in America.
You can no longer just be a good standing member of society. You know have to be a rock star! It’s not good enough to have your kids participate in sports, they have to participate on the best team. You can’t just run for your health, you to run marathons! You can’t just show up every day and give a solid 9 to 5 to your company, you have to be willing to give up your life for your company. Or, you just don’t really care, do you?
How do you know you’re in a Hero Ball death spiral?
First, take a look at how you define success. If you define success as everyone needs to meet the same as your top performers, you’re going down a hero ball path. The definition of success isn’t defined by who does it best. Those are your top performers. You need to define what is successful, by what is expected of someone to be above average. You’re facing an uphill battle, and a ton of turnover, if you’re defining success by how your top performers do!
Second, are you rewarding individual outcomes more than you’re rewarding organizational outcomes, in the long run? I’m all for rewarding individual effort, in fact, it’s one of my favorites. Ultimately, though, you have to know that those individual efforts combined, are leading you to a greater organizational outcome. Otherwise, you risk the individual effort, working counterintuitive to the greater good.
Lastly, to your employees seemed overly concerned about their personal outcomes and position, even in the face of organizational success? We hear so much about how great top performers are for your organization. Which is mostly true. Top performers do a lot. But, they don’t do everything. As the saying goes, the world needs ditch digger too! In organizations, we need employees who aren’t all top players, that are willing to fill a much-needed role, which is usually not a Hero!
Hero ball is really fun…for one person. Unfortunately, we are living in a society that seems to love the idea of hero ball. No one wants to be part of the team, they want to be ‘the’ team. No one wants to set up another employee for success, they want the success themselves. The organizations that will prosper in the next decade will not be those with the top performers. It will be the organizations that figure out how to have top performing teams.