7 Tips for Leading Top Performers

leadership motivation25 years ago the best employees set their sights on the gold watch, a comfortable retirement, maybe a house in Florida.

Things have changed.

In today’s free-agent economy, top performers are building their personal brand, pursuing multiple careers, and choosing great opportunities over company loyalty.

So how do you create a culture where the thought of leaving is laughable? How do you establish an environment where the very best can thrive? Here are seven ways to lead the best of the best:

1. Keep your ego in check. Sometimes, your best performers are better than you. This is a good thing! Don’t let your pride get in the way of serving the best interests of your organization. Find a way to help them release their potential. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

2. Give them your time. It’s said leaders spend 80% of their time with the bottom 20% of their performers. Well, stop it. Deal with or eliminate the bottom 20%. Regardless, give your top performers the time, attention, recognition, development, and resources they need. Pour your capital into the investments that are working!

3. Let them run. Let them run fast. Give them responsibility, authority, flexibility and autonomy. Listen to their ideas. Establish clear, mutually agreed upon boundaries and then give them the freedom to exceed your expectations.

4. Don’t let them be unevenly yoked. Don’t rely on your top performers to continually pull the weight of slower members of your team. Yes, it’s important that their values and goals are integrated with the rest of the team and yes, they’ll pitch in to help when needed. But don’t make that the rule. Don’t shackle them to people who can’t keep up with them.

5. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Don’t take them for granted. Don’t think for a second that just because someone is good that they know they’re good. As long as you’re honest, you can never go wrong giving sincere positive feedback.

6. Talk to them about their dreams. Expect them to want bigger things. Where do they want to go? What do they want to do? Helping them work toward their personal goals will bind them to you and your team all the more.

7. Let them go when it’s time. Protegés get promoted. Kids leave for college. Star players move up to the next league. Don’t hold them back. You’ve got a limited amount of time—use it to develop your top performers into solid leaders. They’ll move on, but their gratitude and loyalty will remain.

Keep these seven tips in mind and you’ll keep your best performers happy—not to mention become a magnet for top talent in your organization, if not your entire industry.

What tips do you have for leading top performers?

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