Hiring a Superstar is Useless!

Have you ever hired, what you thought to be, a superstar?  You think you’ve found the perfect candidate. They have all the skills you are looking for. They have the experience, the track record and they are really frickin’ smart. Their drive and work ethic are off the charts.  You make an offer, and hope they accept. After all, anyone that good won’t stay on the market very long.  They accept and you are doing a jig . . . well for a little while.

After a few months something isn’t quite right.  Things aren’t going as expected. The numbers aren’t where you thought they would be.  Progress isn’t being made. Your superstar isn’t looking so super. After  about six months it’s clear. Your impressive new hire isn’t going to work out.  You’re left asking yourself, “What happened?”

What happened? — You hired the right person, for the wrong role.

This happens all too often.  We often spend too much time trying to find the right person without spending as much if not more time on the role. Job descriptions are normally, buzz-wordy, annoying descriptions of the job and the type of person required to do it. What is really behind a job description? Normally, not very much.

Imagine hiring Tom Brady to be your starting offensive tackle.  It ain’t gonna work. He’s a superstar, but to think he can hold a block is plain dumb. It’s no different in the business world.  Too often I see farmers being hired to hunt. I see hunters being hired to farm. I see change agents and “pot-stirrers” being hired to keep the status quo.  A good hire takes more than finding the right person. It’s finding the right person for the role.

To get the right person in the role, break down the role by; goals, environment and effort.


List EXACTLY what the role is to accomplish. Be very clear and concise. Don’t stick to the high-level goals. Be specific. Get them all on the table. At the end of the day what are you expecting from this role.  What will success look like?


Outline the working environment. Again, be specific. Is it fast-paced? Is it political, or open? Is there lot’s of supervision or is it a free-for-all? Is it a grind, or are the skids greased? Does it require attention to detail? Does it require lot’s of baby kissing? What type of environment exits? Not everyone thrives in the same environment.


What’s it going to take to be successful? What exactly does the person have to do to make it?  Is there lot’s of calling?  Is there a lot of writing? Is there lot’s of travel? Do they have to write their own RFP’s? Do they have to be good with excel? Do they have to know how to read a financial statement? Do they have to motivate and lead a matrix organization?  What effort is required to be successful? What do they have to do?  Not everyone is good at everything.

Finding a superstar is awesome. However, he or she will fail if they aren’t in the right role. Spend as much time on defining the role as you do in finding your next superstar. It matters.

Superstars are useless if they aren’t in the right role.  Tom Brady at left tackle?  What a joke!


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