Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Nurturing Your Superstars (pt 1 of 3) “Burnout”

Superstars are often the “Lost Children” of business. Because they shine, everything appears to be going great. It’s just assumed that if someone is doing that well then they must not have any problems. And if they don’t have any problems, I don’t need to worry about them. The result is that they become neglected and don’t get the needed attention they require and deserve (the squeaky wheel syndrome).

A major mistake many managers make is not nurturing their superstars. “If they’re doing good – leave ‘em alone – don’t mess it up,” seems to be the general consensus. WRONG!!!

Superstars need nurturing and guidance just as much as any employee. One problem with superstars is because they do well, more is expected of them. This, in itself, is stress producing and will often deter a superstar from seeking needed help. They come to believe they’re not allowed to make mistakes. They push themselves hard and they beat themselves hard when they don’t live up to expectations. Without attention and guidance, superstars will inevitably suffer from either mediocrity (see chapter 14), or even worse, burnout.


“The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

– Blade Runner

The most sinister aspect of burnout is its ability to erode purpose and passion before being recognized.

Burnout is physical, emotional, spiritual, and/or mental exhaustion or aggravation resulting from long-term stress. This stress is often the result of an overdeveloped work habit coupled with an underdeveloped emotional support system. This condition develops gradually as an individual places more and more demands on himself or herself. When this happens, an individual loses the ability to function productively. Creativity and effectivity slowly succumbs to fatigue, skepticism, and ultimately, disillusionment.

Disillusionment is the greatest tragedy of all. An individual loses faith in his ideals, his dreams, and himself, becoming cynical and embittered. He often feels that what gave his life meaning before, now counts for nothing. Once highly committed to a job, the individual loses all interest and motivation, and very often, a successful career.

Studies show that the qualities which make a person a superstar are also what put him or her at an increased risk for burnout. These qualities include: being self-motivated, enjoys change, attracted to demanding jobs, high achiever, willingness to push self, willingness to take risks for high rewards, multitask oriented, passionate about their work, and goal driven.

This personality type will often be a perfectionist, see achievements as validation of their worth, and feel guilty when they relax. They have a tendency to put less value on personal time than on work time, and spend more time, energy, and effort on projects than they do on relationships. Because they set the bar so high for themselves, they are always rushing and believe they rarely accomplish enough. They are often intimidated by unfinished business and feel failed by asking for help. This personality type will survive very well and be functioning very productively for a long period of time until suddenly their resistance will collapse without any apparent cause.

One saying you’ve probably heard in business is, “When I have something I want done, I give it to the busy man to do to because I know he’ll get it done.” This is because the busy man will get it done no matter what it takes. These are usually our superstars and they will get it done – but at what cost?

As manager, it’s important I don’t rely on my superstars so much that I allow them to become overwhelmed. They will get it done and they won’t complain, but at the same time, they won’t let me know when they’re in over their head either. Instead, they suffer silently, rushing faster and faster to get it all done. Because they usually accept assignments willingly and appear to have everything under control I can easily neglect monitoring them without realizing.

– excerpt from “Managing from the Heart – A Way of Life”


September 11, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Employee Coaching, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring, Personal Development, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Great article!

    Comment by Loretta Westling | August 18, 2010 | Reply

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