Stanton Chase
Is a Team MVP a Blessing or a Curse?

Is a Team MVP a Blessing or a Curse?

January 2024


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As we enter the 2023-2024 playoff season, the best NFL teams are squaring off against one another. They’ll thin their ranks until one of them claims the Super Bowl title. 

While every playoff team has talent, most also have an MVP or “most valuable player” that has propelled them into the postseason. The Ravens have Lamar Jackson. The 49ers have Brock Purdy, Mr. Irrelevant who’s now taken his team to back-to-back NFC Championship games. Patrick Mahomes is the Chief’s perennial ultra-valuable individual.

The concept of having a person who is the “secret ingredient” to your success goes beyond the playing field or locker room. It’s a common workplace concept as well. Many effective teams have MVPs that help create uniquely successful results. 

As a leader, it’s nice to have this wild card to fall back on, but overreliance on your MVP can also come with certain pitfalls. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons that come with having a team MVP in the workplace.

The Pros of Having a Team MVP

Let’s start with the more positive side of things. Having an MVP can come with a lot of perks that are particularly attractive to a leader trying to orchestrate efforts, meet deadlines, and reach benchmarks.

MVPs Require Less Time and Training

An MVP often requires less training time. An exceptional worker typically has previous experience or education. They also have an intuitive sense of what is needed and can grasp new concepts quickly.

This naturally means that when you lean on your MVP, you can also expect results faster. Their goal-oriented mentality leads to faster project turnaround times.

MVPs Reduce Leader and Stakeholder Stress

When you know results are going to be both positive and efficient, this takes a lot of stress off of a leader’s plate, too. You can spend less “thinking” time trying to engineer, orchestrate, and guide your various team members toward a single end goal. 

The de-stressing aspect of an MVP also applies to stakeholders in general. From bosses to board members, anyone with a stake in the success of your team can rest easy when they know you have an MVP ace of spades that you can play at any moment.

The Cons of Having a Team MVP

While having an MVP of the office has its positives, leaning too hard on a superstar employee can backfire in several ways. Here are some subtle and not-so-subtle things to consider.

MVPs Can Bottleneck Progress

The most obvious issue is bottlenecking. When you expect too much from your MVP, it can create a slowdown in productivity due to their naturally limited capacity. 

These slowdowns can be exacerbated when an MVP worker takes time off. This can lead to huge gaps in work and lost time.

MVPs Stunt Development Opportunities

When you disperse work to a single individual too often, you miss out on team training opportunities. By leaning on one worker’s pre-existing skills, you also remove the chance for them to enhance their own capabilities.

MVPs Can Impact Team Confidence and Stress

An MVP can damage workplace culture by creating a lack of self-confidence in other team members. Watching someone else excel can quickly lead to feelings of inadequacy.

When that is the case and an overused MVP is away, it adds unnecessary stress to your team as their work is distributed to others. The combined lack of cross-training and confidence can leave everyone else struggling to keep up. 

MVPs Can Burn Out, Too

Finally, relying on an MVP too much can burn them out from the heavy workload. When this happens, their morale, productivity, and loyalty can suffer. 

If this leads them to leave the team (or even your entire company), the complications grow. There can be countless missed opportunities and months of lost productivity when they make their final departure.

The MVT: An MVP Counterpoint

Having an MVP-caliber individual on your team can be helpful. But the truth is, you want everyone on your team to be operating at an MVP level. You also want everyone to be part of your group effort.

With that in mind, Janssen Sports Leadership Center came up with a clever counterpoint to the office MVP: a team’s “most valuable teammate.” The athletic site adds that MVTs consist of “an equally valuable, though often overlooked person, or group of people, who make significant, behind-the-scenes contributions to your team’s success, culture, and chemistry.”

These are individuals who understand and execute their roles well. They are endlessly positive and push those around them, holding their teammates accountable, supporting them when they need it, and celebrating their successes.

Building a Valuable Team

Every team has its MVP and its MVT. The job of a leader is to identify, utilize, and avoid over-relying on these individuals. It’s also important to consider the MVP and MVT potential of every candidate you recruit. 

Every team has its MVP and its MVT. The job of a leader is to identify, utilize, and avoid over-relying on these individuals.

Finding and properly utilizing your “most valuable” talent starts at the top. As an executive search partner, Stanton Chase looks for elite individual and group-oriented qualities in every candidate we consider for our clients’ C-suites. That way, those same leaders can effectively weigh the pros and cons as they, in turn, manage their MVPs and MVTs to achieve team success.

About the Author

Shelly Perkins serves as a Director at Stanton Chase Nashville. With over 20 years of professional experience, Shelly has dedicated much of her career to talent optimization and leadership development.  

Prior to joining Stanton Chase, Shelly led a career consulting and business coaching practice for 12 years. This practice focused on accelerating transformation for organizations across a variety of industries, including healthcare, hotel, manufacturing, retail, and commercial services.

Executive Search
Talent Management and Employee Well-Being

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