Which would you rather have....5 great employees or 1,000 mediocre ones? If you're Marc Andreessen, cofounder of Netscape, he'd take the 5 great employees. In an interview last month, Mark Zuckerberg made a comment along the same lines. But what if your 5 star performers don't play well together? And what if those 5 are facing a team which works together exceptionally well? William Taylor discusses the merits of the pretty good performer vs. the great performer on the Fast Company website. Check out his very interesting article here.
William Taylor continues his discussion on whether great people are overrated in Part II here.
And here's another thing to think about. I have seen great people turn mediocre when not placed in the right system and role. I think a balance of high talent and high team is the goal and what we should endeavor to achieve. Stars who are also capacity builders will help everyone do their best work.
My definition of a "star" might be different, too. I do not consider a highly talented person who is a bad team member to be a star. I think that to be considered top or key talent, we have to be good at what we do AND how we work with others.