Star Players in my Startup Share One Principle of High Performance

Star Players in my Startup Share One Principle of High Performance

Steal the way they think and manage workplace relationships to supercharge your own career progress

Star Players in my Startup Share One Principle of High Performance
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

We can identify star players when we see one. However, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how they are one.

Many peers I spoke to say it is all about technical competence. I humbly disagree. Put that genius coder in front of a client and observe what happens within seconds.

A few say it is about a positive, can-do attitude. I say that is part of the entry criteria for all startups. Our work covers all shades of grey with no defined parameters and straightforward answers.

A strong positive outlook is necessary to get through our daily life. That is, without jumping over the cliff.

The other suspect attributes on the list include the following.

  • High IQ
  • High EQ
  • High AQ (A for Adversity)

All these attributes matter. However, there is one I have yet to mention. It is a common denominator across all Star Players in my startup.

… And it makes a ton of sense.

Startups aren’t nominated for Workplace of the World for obvious reasons. We are toddlers in the commercial jungle. Therefore, we are vulnerable to predatory attacks.

As the saying goes, only 1 out of 10 startups survives beyond Year 1.

Founding team members go through a rigorous hiring process. They must check the boxes for aptitude, attitude, conscientiousness, and the ability to work in a team and fly solo.

Friction occurs when they start working in teams. That is no surprise. We are individual beings, after all.

Yet amongst the sample population of Star Players, those who truly stand out are stress absorbers. Why so?

Because they accept the circumstances for what it is when times are tough.

Because they help others to solve their problems when they can.

Because they focus on the issues rather than troublemakers.

It appears to be a list of disparate points. But it is not. Star players can take the stress. They shoulder high levels of work stress and take away the psychological burden from others.

This is the key reason many others want to stick around and work with them. All the time.

I have this question above my head all the time. After all, this behavior is highly unusual.

I used to be part of a digital transformation project team for a telecommunication client. The contract was overcommitted, undersold, and inadequately staffed.

Yes, I lived in a Hell Hole. And in this Hell Hole, good-natured humans become selfish.

We do not look out for each other. Every day is an 18-hour workday. We just want to clear our never-ending assigned tasks in order to head home to sleep.

Studies indicate that being extraordinary competent can place a person under an unusual amount of stress because it raises other people’s expectation of them.

― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

In that environment, the selfish were productive. Self-centered Joe and Jane got promoted. The less selfish were disgruntled. I hated working there.

Fortunately, star performers in my startup operate differently. Thank God for that.

Fake names. Real personalities.

Adam is my Innovation Lead. He is involved in every touchpoint of the startup because innovation work travels from start point to end point.

This is Adam’s A-Day-in-a-Life snapshot.

  • He speaks to suspects and prospects
  • He speaks to long-time customers
  • He speaks to the marketing team
  • He speaks to the product team
  • He speaks to the C-Level

It is fair to say that Adam deals with a boatload of complaints, clarifications, and whining from internal and external customers. He has a highly stressful job.

But. I have never witnessed Adam lose composure.

I asked him how he handles stress. This is his reply.

“Emotions travel. Positive emotions are like snails. They travel slowly. Negative vibes are like photons. They travel at the speed of light. Whenever I get upset over the lack of progress or understanding, I ask myself whether my cut-throat response will impact productivity. The answer is yes. So, I deliver feedback without negative vibes. I try.”

Adam is wildly successful in this aspect. How do I know? The 360-feedback told me that.

And then, there is Evelyn. She is a gem. And she has a unique style.

First and foremost, Eve knows she is quick on her feet. And she is a critical thinker. That makes her one of those dangerous personalities to walk around the office (behind me, of course).

But. Eve takes care of the person in front of her when she has a conversation.

  • With newcomer Sherlyn Curious, she asks questions
  • With newcomer Joe Blue, she goes slow
  • With Chief Executive Eric, she answers
  • With me, she zips along fast

She achieves the unbelievable in terms of corporate communication by regulating the speed of her delivery. Everyone understands her.

Let me repeat. EVERYONE understands Evelyn.

Like Adam, Eve captures the market value of people’s attention in my startup. Everyone gravitates toward her when they encounter work issues.

And just like Adam, Eve removes boulders of stress from people’s shoulders whenever she goes. She does that by giving undivided attention with crystal clear communication.

You become the darling of the office once you start removing stress from people you meet. How do I know that? It is simple. Really.

Almost everyone avoids my Chief Executive.

And almost everyone follows behind Adam and Evelyn wherever they go.

It is telling, is it not?

Go to Publisher:

Entrepreneur's Handbook – Medium

Author: Aldric Chen