8 Things That Make a Star

In an in-depth Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership article in September, I describe how you can figure out whether recruiting “stars,” or A-players, pay off.

You’ll get formulas and a software-company case study to see how it’s done.

If you’re a subscriber, you’ll get that in the mail. In the meantime, though, this begs the question: what in the world is a star?

One way to consider whether an individual is a star is to consider their ability and desire for focused development, challenging job assignments, and potential leadership career growth, says Doris Sims, author of The 30-Minute Guide to Talent and Succession Management. This definition works well within an organization, but how do you identify stars across organizations?

Lisa Haneberg, VP and OD Practice Leader of MPI Consulting and author of High Impact Middle Management, has developed eight key criteria that define star performers:

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  1. They are well-rounded. In addition to strong technical expertise in their functional area, they also have a solid understanding of how business works — even if they are a rock-star developer.
  2. They get results. More than meeting performance expectations, they are known for getting results. And, more often than not, their approach to getting results is innovative.
  3. They are builders. Whether they work inside a turnaround, a startup or a mature organization, they are known for building the organization to make it stronger and more nimble.
  4. They are flexible. In fact, you can put rock stars in charge of most any department and they will flourish.
  5. They are open. Contrary to the stereotype that rock stars can be prima donnas, real rock stars are open to input from others, responsive to requests, as well as candid and assertive.
  6. They keep their commitments. If they said it would be done on Monday, it is.
  7. They are team catalysts. They know that no man is an island and that every rock star depends on a strong team. Rock stars do whatever it takes to build the team.
  8. They are respected. Rock stars are respected by their peers and direct reports for the results they produce, as well as the way in which they get things done.

And finally, Lisa Haneberg offers a bonus criteria for identifying rock stars:
“They are not likely scanning online job postings!” she says.

Lisa Ann Edwards is a talent development professional for organizations that desire to remain, or become, a great place to work. Her expertise in talent development is based on more than 20 years of experience in the media, technology, printing, and publishing industries. Edwards has co-authored Managing Talent Retention: An ROI Approach (Pfeiffer, 2009) and Measuring ROI in Coaching for New Hire Employee Retention: A Global Media Company published in ROI in Action Casebook (Pfeiffer, 2008). She is working on her next book, a unique approach to personal engagement at work. Edwards pioneered her talent engagement method in 2001 and has coached C-level executives, high-potential leaders slated for the C-suite as well as mid-level managers and frontline employees. In her role as head of learning & development for Corbis, a Bill Gates-owned global media company, Edwards is responsible for designing and implementing effective talent development solutions that ensure talent engagement, improve talent retention and serve to feed the talent pipeline.


4 Comments on “8 Things That Make a Star

  1. Lisa – what a fantastic article. You have very clearly communicated what makes a true “Rock Star”. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hi Matt!
    The credit belongs to Lisa Haneberg whom I interviewed for the article. She did indeed do a fantastic job of defining the key characteristics of a star!
    ~ Lisa

  3. Overall, great article! However, I strongly disagree that A Players aren’t likely on job boards. . .when you love what you do and you’re consumed by it, you embrace a tool that will explore on your behalf. A Players have a multi-pronged strategy; life, personal & work, which doesn’t leave much to job search. They may put themselves out there, just to see what bites, then conduct a deep dive, hence optimizing their time. A Players aren’t always the ones that should be hunted; I’d argue that the need to be hunted means you’ve assumed complacency. Why not always have your “feelers” out?

  4. Hi Jacqueline!

    Thank you so much for your comments! You bring up a great point!

    The 8 qualities that make a star come from Lisa Haneberg who I interviewed and referenced in the short blog post. Her comment on searching for jobs is ‘bonus’ statement and I believe she’s right on target. Lisa H.’s thinking aligns very well with BlessingWhite’s research on engaged and productive employees. BlessingWhite found that fully engaged employees who are productive and positive (and most likely people we think of as A players) are fully committed to their organization and not seeking other employment opportunites. When the recruiter calls, they don’t even take the call.

    The next level of engaged and productive employee, according to BlessingWhite’s research, is the ‘almost engaged’ employee. They are productive, but keeping their options open. They are not fully committed to the organization and as such, they may not viewed as an ‘A player’ by the employer, since organizations frequently look at level of commitment as a part of their evaluation of talent. According to BlessingWhite’s research, when the recruiter calls an ‘alomst engaged’ employee, they take the call and investigate the opportunity.

    Most organizations are looking for people who will be productive and fully committed/fully engaged, therefore these are most sought-after types of A players.

    Having owned a business, I know first-hand that I value the highly productive and committed individual over the one who might productive but always keeping their feelers out there.

    Take a look at the full article, Recruiting Stars: Does it really pay-off? that comes out in September’s Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership. In this article I demonstrate a method to answer that question.

    Meantime, you can check out the research I mentioned at: http://www.BlessingWhite.com.

    Thanks again for your comments, Jacqueline!

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