Getting the best out of your high achievers


High achievers in a team can be a great asset, driving your team to success but as with most areas of leadership, there is no cruise control. If leaders aren’t careful, they could find that high achievers are slowing the team down rather than propelling them towards high performance. 

Why are some high achievers causing teams to lag behind? 

Everyone is different and team dynamics can differ within an organisation, as well as inter-organisationally but there is no doubt that your high achievers will come up against some of these issues in their time with you: 

High standards — it may cause some to get the tiny violin out but for high achievers, the pressure of always needing to meet the high standards that others set for them (as well as the standards they set for themselves) can start to chip away at their resolve. Performance anxiety is not just for the stage! 

Working hard — naturally gifted team members can be prone to taking shortcuts, leaving things to the very last minute or they simply not putting 100% into a task. Why? Because they know they can get things done to a ‘passable’ standard without exerting much effort and they’re not used to really working hard to get something they want. This kind of behaviour might have helped them out at high school or university when they were responsible for themselves, but it can cause other team members to become frustrated or to simply not have the information they need to complete their own tasks. 

Loyalty — if you have any ambitious high achievers in your team, it’s best that you do what you can to secure their loyalty. When they believe the grass is greener in another team or organisation, high achievers will leave. This leaves teams in the lurch, looking for replacements and constantly retraining. 

Team players — just as some high achievers can relax a little too much, others can take on too many tasks. Ever heard someone say “It’ll be easier if I do it”, or “I’m the only one who knows how to do this”? Perhaps you’re the one who says it. A high achiever can sometimes put too much on their plate because they worry about everyone else’s standards, believing themselves to be the only person for the job. Not only is this the path to burn out, it’s also a surefire way to make sure no one else in the team is ever challenged or stretched, instead, they will just be frustrated. 

What can you do to get the best out of your high achievers? 

Identify — it’s important to know who your high achievers are but it’s even more important to identify their goals, strengths, weaknesses and how they like to be challenged. Assigning tasks and placing them in your team all comes down to these things. When you know these things, you can also foster an environment that challenges them, whether that’s stretching their efforts or getting them out of their comfort zone of ‘doing it all’. 

Recognise — not everyone likes to be recognised and rewarded in the same way so, if you want to keep your high achievers on your team, it’s worth finding out what motivates them, what spurs them on to keep hitting high standards. Rewarding and recognising appropriately is an extremely powerful tool to keep all of your team members moving towards success. 

Manage — teams rely so heavily on the dynamic between their members. Be sure to keep an eye on the standards of your team, correct the poor performers and ensure everyone is putting in relatively equal amounts of effort. Mid-range achievers can get frustrated by high-achievers not putting in effort just as much as they can get frustrated by low-achievers not reaching the team standards. Keep things fair and don’t be afraid to be upfront with your team. 

Want to get the best out of your high achievers? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.