Spotlight Rangers

Whenever there’s a higher position or a reward associated, it seems obvious to choose the top performer. However, you need to watch out for spotlight rangers. I am pretty sure that if you’ve ever worked in a team or have led a team, you’ve had at least one person who’s a “spotlight ranger.”

The concept of a spotlight ranger comes from the US Army Ranger Schools. A “spotlight ranger” is slang for the rangers who don’t give a mission their best unless a high-ranking officer is looking over them. In other words, she or he performs only for the “spotlight.” And the concept of a spotlight ranger is not just limited to the army and the military, it is applicable to everything.

We often have teammates and colleagues that are great people when there’s a superior person present watching over their activities, and these spotlight rangers do great things when the spotlight is over them and they are being watched. But as soon as the superior officer (the spotlight), is gone, they are literal jerks.

If you want to create a great team, or if you want to hire great employees, you need to understand this concept. Because if someone is a spotlight ranger, they are not really team players. They do it only to be appreciated by the superior or to get the reward, while not really being a good person. I’ve had multiple encounters with spotlight rangers, and it’s fairly easy to spot a spotlight ranger when you are working with them as their colleague, but it’s really hard to spot one if you’re leading the team or if you’re a senior officer. But there is a solution to all of this: 360 Feedback.

After the US Army Ranger Schools detected this problem of spotlight rangers, they developed a three-layer selection system. With this system in place, to be promoted from a ranger to an army officer, the rangers would have to pass:

  1. All the exams conducted
  2. All the physical tests
  3. A 360 feedback test

The first two basics, which is to say that they need to be good at being a ranger. The third test, however, didn’t check their ability to be a ranger, but to find out the team players. In the 360 feedback test, all rangers give feedback on every other ranger. This helps to find out whether someone is a team player or a spotlight ranger.

This same concept can be used while creating a team, rewarding winners, or hiring people. While how you implement this is entirely up to you, the consequences of not doing so can be disastrous and draining for a team.

And if you’re a team member, don’t be a spotlight ranger. If you aren’t really passionate about the job you do or the mission of the company/team, don’t do it. Do what you love!

If you’ve come this far in this article, thank you for reading. I really appreciate you doing so. If you may, please let me know that you read this article with a comment or like, or you can DM me. You might as well make my day.

Take care!

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