Authors, consultants and organizations have started to pay more attention to the value of exemplary employees. Some of this is probably due to competitive pressures, some is probably due to work like Malcom Gladwell’s “Outliers”. Unfortunately, a great deal of the focus on exemplars has been–from my perspective–misguided.
There is a tendency to view exemplars in terms of their personalities. So we describe them by their attitude (refusal to quit, optimistic) or the personality trait (inquisitive, creative). And of course the problem with doing so that personality doesn’t make a superb perform. There may be traits and attitudes that are valuable to have. But what performance analysis tells us is that you can’t just parachute someone with particular traits into a particular job and automatically get success. And that two performers with very different personalities can achieve similar outstanding results (especially with white collar work).