Project Management

Managing the High-Achieving Ego

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Let me start this article with a disclaimer--I’m going to get into a few more specifics here than I usually do, and as some readers know me, my clients and my teams, I want to be clear that this article is based on my experiences and the experiences of my colleagues over many years. Don’t try and match this to any one individual, because it isn’t about one individual! I will be forced in this article to stereotype, but please remember that while the characteristics that I will describe are common among high achievers, everyone is an individual and needs to be managed as such.

So with that out of the way, I have sometimes found myself managing resources within a project or as part of a PMO where the individual clearly has the potential to be a high achiever. These individuals are clearly capable of reaching the top of their profession, and because they are generally young they are impatient to get there today because tomorrow is too far away. Additionally, they often believe that they will be held back from achieving their goals because people in authority either won’t be able to see past their youth--or will deliberately hold them back because of it out of some kind of professional envy.

Sound familiar? So how do you manage the high achievers who know how high achieving they are?

Direct the energy
High achievers are likely to have some …

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"It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head."

- Sally Kempton