In the blink of an iPod, tech stalwart Apple just crushed one of its suppliers, Imagination Technologies. The supplier announced this week that Apple was no longer going to license the British company's technology for helping to power the graphics on iPhones, iPads, tablets, etc.

Easier said than done, as it's unclear how Apple will be able to do a workaround "without violating Imagination's patents, intellectual property, and confidential information", according to the flummoxed company.

Either way, it's a fact of life you say. Companies lose big accounts all the time.

In this case, it's really painful though--over half of all Imagination's revenue comes from Apple.

Imagination's stock price immediately plummeted 72 percent on the news, with only slight recovery since then. The delete button got hit on over $650 million in market cap.

It begs a question. Was Imagination too dependent on Apple? In a world where the Costcos and Walmarts of the world can crush a suppliers business after one agitated meeting, is there a lesson here for us all?

I say yes. In your own workplace, have you become too dependent on your superstars, leaning on them for everything? Have you been ignoring the bench?

If that superstar(s) were to leave, would you be as screwed as Imagination Technologies?

Don't let this happen to you. Here's three ways you can start spreading the love, and the risk.

1. Create a fair playing field

We all just want a fair deal and to be dealt with fairly. When the rules are stacked against us, the game is no fun. It creates resentment, or worse. Sun the tallest tree, yes, but don't let everything else wither in the shade.

2. Celebrate first downs and touchdowns

Superstars may be thought of as such because they score the touchdowns. But it takes a whole lot of first downs before the big score--yardage often delivered by what you might see as "The B-Team". Celebrate the progress, and all the people behind it, along the way.

3. Plant seeds of growth, not seeds of doubt

B-players can sense when they're thought of as such. Suddenly everything you say and do as a boss takes on a different meaning. It's very easy to crush self-confidence of the bench players and spiral them further down in your mind.

Be mindful to raise, not raze, self-confidence accordingly.

Net, being intentional about avoiding overdependence and favoritism just may save you from a painful loss one day, like Imagination experienced.

And that's one Apple you want to fall far from the tree.

Published on: Apr 5, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.