CEO Coaching: Leading and Managing High Performers

Most would agree that managing low potential individuals (LoPos) is tough. In most cases, you should replace them. However, managing high potential people (HiPos) can be just as challenging!

My clients are either CEOs or senior executives. Earlier in their career, they were probably labeled as HiPos. They typically have good social skills, drive, and lots of aptitude, initially in one area and then several, or many, as they mature.

Some HiPos go on to great things, and others flame out. HiPos need as much, if not more, attention than weaker performers to flourish. Below are areas to work with them on to avoid losing them.

Everyone says you should have the strongest team you can afford. HiPos can be good team players, but early in their career, some are too driven and need to learn how to play better with others. Get them to see that they must subordinate their ego for the team’s benefit. It’s OK to be proud of your work, but helping others succeed works better over the long run. HiPos also bitch about weak team members. Be open to the idea that they may be right.…

HiPos can drive you nuts because they always push their new ideas and initiatives. On one hand, they need to learn to thrive with limited resources and a marketplace of ideas. Not every idea gets funded. On the other hand, if you want them to grow, you must allow them to birth and execute some new ideas.

HiPos can flourish in a meritocracy, but if you’re all about “fairness,” good luck. They want to be rewarded for their efforts and ideas, not handcuffed to mediocrity. If your management practices don’t allow for that (e.g., pay and recognition), don’t hire driven people.

HiPos must learn how to fail gracefully and learn from it. If your business model or culture doesn’t allow for (or encourage!) risk and failure, you won’t attract many HiPos. Some HiPos have fragile egos, especially early in their career. Failing gracefully and admitting their mistakes might require your coaching.

Lastly, get comfortable managing people who are smarter than you are. If you need to be the smartest guy in the room, you’ll have a room full of LoPos.

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