Leadership for High Achievers Title Image. Contains venn diagram of personal, interpersonal, and organizational excellence. Notes that the page will have strategies to help you optimize decision-making, work through high consequence situations, and set the cultural tone.


High Achievers may put too much effort into problem-solving the difficulties of irresponsible employees. 

Solution: Get clear about the characteristics that separate successful from non-successful employees. Build a company culture that rewards the type of employee you want. Weeding out difficult employees will always raise the morale and productivity of everyone else. If you have someone who seems to have a personality problem, check out the Dealing with Difficult People section of my book, Relational Genius. It will help you discern whether the employee is capable of improving.


High Achievers who are big-picture thinkers may get frustrated with people who think  concretely and sequentially.

Solution: The solution to this is a mental reframe. People who are concrete and sequential will continue to frustrate you, but you need them in your organization. They do some of the tedious tasks that drive you crazy, and they help to refine processes when everyone else is running amok. Recognize that the difference is a cognitive one–don’t try to make them think “big-picture,” or they will become demoralized, and you will become more frustrated.


High Achievers often become frustrated when others do not meet their expectations.

Solution: You are in a position of leadership because you have strengths that other people do not. If you attempt to be humble and say that you are no different than anyone else, you will have expectations that they should be like you. This expectation is a disservice to people around you. Practice setting your expectations according to the evidence at hand. Don’t lower your standards, but do adjust your expectations.


High Achievers are often the best at what they do and may struggle to delegate.

Solution: I need to quote Barbara Cochran here because I respect her so much for saying what no one else will say. “When you delegate, no one will do it as well as you.” Expect mistakes. Anticipate that you will do far more training than you think you should. However, if you don’t delegate, you will put a ceiling on your company.


High Achievers’ goal orientation can make them forget to praise employees adequately.

Solution: Read Radical Candor by Kim Scott. She says everything that I wanted to about human dynamics. Also, read the “how to give compliments” section of my book, Relational Genius.  Tell someone else about your intention to praise more often. Reading and discussing new learning encodes information into our brain, bringing it more fully to our awareness to act on it. If you are working with an executive coach, put it on a list of longer-term goals so that the two of you can work it into your discussions.


High Achieving leaders struggle to maintain personal care as a priority.

Solution: First, you will need to buy the idea that everyone loses if you don’t refuel yourself. As long as you believe that you can burn the candle from all ends with no adverse impact on your relationships or performance, you will continue to push ahead without boundaries. If you know that you need to prioritize self-care, set some non-negotiable limits that protect your time. For more information, see the Stress and Resilience page on this website.



Expectations, Responses, Behaviors


Verbal and Non-verbal behavior, Mission statement and Implementation


Capable of the advanced planning and system assessment that helps employees do their jobs


Affirms positive behavior, Affirms positive attitudes, Affirms each employee as a person


Willing to make hard choices for the good of the organization and for the good of the team


Views information flow as an asset to the organization and communicates accordingly


Emotionally invested in the mission and the team

Favorite Leadership Quotes

It’s hard to lead a calvary charge if you think you look funny on a horse.  Adlai E. Stevenson

“Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” Colin Powell

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” Tony Blair

“No guts, no story.” Chris Brady


Years ago, I attended a leadership conference. I recall wondering what I was doing there as I did not currently lead people. At that particular conference, John Maxwell spoke about the need for self-leadership before we can lead others. I began focusing on self-leadership from the angle of wanting to trust and respect myself…and to be the kind of person that I would follow. For me, this includes living out my priorities, being careful about the promises I make, and realizing the power we all have to make a positive or negative imprint on the lives of others.

“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.” —Robert E. Lee