Go with average Joe
Average people think they are above average.
People tend to overestimate their positive qualities and underestimate their negative ones. It’s called illusory superiority. In ratings of leadership ability 70% of students put themselves above the median. In ability to get along well with others 85% put themselves above the median while a whopping 25% rated themselves in the top 1%. And of course, everyone’s children are above average.
Average isn’t desirable and it isn’t in demand.
People who don’t stand-out in the crowd are your organizations greatest pool of untapped talent. They don’t have charisma. They aren’t exceptionally good looking. They aren’t bubbling with talent. They aren’t Stars. They’re hardworking average Joe’s. They’re the people who get things done without needing the spotlight.
When should you go with average Joe?
I’d rather have a passionate average Joe than a dispassionate star on my team any day. In my experience, average Joe’s are more reliable, more dedicated, more loyal, and frequently harder working than Stars.
Choose passion over talent.
This may not work in highly technical fields. But it works for nonprofits that frequently need volunteers working behind the scenes. You may choose a star to be your front-man because Stars crave and shine in the spot light. But Stars aren’t the reason a project is completed on time. Hard working, selfless, dedicated average Joe’s are the reason jobs get done.
Have you been burned by a star? Do you have a story about an average Joe who got the Job done?
Average Joe’s make the world and the Stars think they rule the world, in reality if it wasn’t for the average Joe this world would fail beyond belief. I see this everyday more than that I’m living proof hard work does pay off.
Believe in yourself and you will go far, trust in others you may fail!
“Stars think they rule the world” … Shazzam!
Yes. I’m the average joe that was tired of being burnt out by the stars. So now I’m showing the world that average joe’s are the one’s that keep things running. I’m now creating a company that is run by leadership, kindness, integrity, and a code of honor.
“Outstanding” with your values your company should go far! congratulations for having the courage to think out of the box and realize core values with guidance will succeed! Good luck with your new company!
So great to see you again. I think of you from time to time. I’m stopping over to your website…
As a career Soldier I can tell you that it is the average Joe that makes things happen. The Army is a great learning environment and more than once I have seen the average Joe outperform the superstar in the long run. I would take a company of average Joe’s over a few stars any day!
Coming from you this means a lot. Here’s to average Joe.
I have to disagree on this one.
There’s seems no doubt in Dan’s mind that average Joe can be hard working or dedicated, loyal, passionate and all the superlatives that he can be embellished with. If that was the case then why is the result of average Joe…well, “average”?
Why do you call a star – as a “star”? Is it not because of the outcomes they can produce – the results being there for all to see? There may be some stars who are jerks, who can’t get along with others, and doesn’t seem passionate. It doesn’t mean most of the stars are not passionate or loyal or dedicated. In fact, majority of the stars are likely to be more passionate and dedicated than the average Joes and Janes – which is how they become stars.
Volunteering or non-profit organizations rely on volunteers who are generally passionate about a cause, and therefore they are exceptions to the “average” – even if they may not have talent. In such a field, would you not consider passion as a pre-requisite or as a specific “talent” that is required? More often than not, “stars” in non-profit or voluntary organizations are those who are even more passionate than others, are able to get along with most everyone, don’t take no for discouragement and are able to work around problems by involving others.
Those were my thoughts. I’d still be interested to know why you think otherwise that stars and dispassionate jerks seem to share a lot in common.
Thank you for your first comment on Leadership Freak. I look forward to many more. Love how you explain that someone with passion is not average. Well said.
Best to you,
Dan this is a tricky space. Stars would not be stars if they were not useful. The answer is with the manager as Star with a terrible manager will not shine and deliver for long. Average Joe is not average if he has passion. Most people with passion, when chanelled in the right direction deliver like stars. I don’t want to get lost in the semantics, but to me a good manager knows how to get the best out of the two with their different strengths.
If the manager does not know how to leverage off of the strengths of any of his/her staff, it does not matter whether their team has stars or average Joe as the performance will be below par. I trust that people put in the right place will deliver, so I have had some difficult ego type hypes to manage who did a great job and I would just make sure I keep them out of the way of others and keep others out of their way as well.
I am differentiating between average Joe and mediocrity!
Love how you differentiate between mediocrity and “average joe.”
Great addition to the conversation.
Just because you are good at something it doesn’t mean you are the best for it … some things need to be done with passion, not in a way a robot will do it! I have my vote for the average Joe with passion!
Thanks for your comment. I think it’s Gary V who says, “passion trumps everything.”
I like the idea that passion may motivate someone to try things that a “star” might not try.
Best to you,
“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” -Christian Hebbel and I couldn’t agree more with him as I am person of passion!
Best back to you,
I find it amazing that we are so in tune! I have worked in people-focused services all my professional career and staff with passion have always been the stand-outs! However, they have not always been the Stars and most often have been the Average Joes!
I am hugely passionate about certain things in my life and professional career and they have always been a great motivator for me – if not my greatest motivator! In a team setting, I recognise you need both in any given situation but for ‘getting the job done’ give me passionate Average Joes every time!
Great post – thanks!
On Illusory Superiority: Ask a room of 100 people what sort of driver do they consider themselves and they’ll all say “better than average”, which statistically can’t be true.
Stars have many limitiations. They need Average Joes to really shine.
Thanks for leaving your first comment on Leadership Freak. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
Thanks I like the idea
This one has created some great discussion! I think the point in all of this is not so much results as many of our friends have commented, but rather the heart behind the results. I see the average Joe as being someone who produces results with a healthy degree of humility. I’m reminded of Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” and the following quote regarding the Level 5 Executive: “Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”
As I walked through the ranks during my military career, I vowed to never forget where I came from. The best of both worlds is to have Stars with the heart of an average Joe who have never forgotten from whence they’ve come!
blessings to you!
I worked with someone who was a superstar. I was the “average Joe.”
The superstar only worked hard one day before deadlines and was very visible when the supervisor was in town. Otherwise, I did 90 percent of the work everyday while they came and went as they pleased and let work pile up.
I don’t want to be a superstar but I will not go through this again.
Thanks for sharing your story… I wrote a post that applies to this type of situation – “How to Toot Your Own Horn”. There is a belief that if I simply work hard, people will notice. It’s not always true. Best wishes, Dan