One leader who you may not expect to struggle with their development goals is the Star Performer.  The Star Performer is a highly capable leader with a strong future focus.  Everyone, including the leader themselves, is aware that they are very skilled and promotable. They may only have one or two key areas to develop, but these areas may be critical to their long-term success – for example: a need to show more patience and interest in others’ ideas in team meetings.  Sometimes, a Star Performer fails to recognize the importance of further development because they have been so successful.

So what strategies are effective when a Star Performer isn’t committing to addressing their development needs?

Before you can have an effective conversation or coaching engagement with the Star Performer, make sure that they have seen credible data that supports the need for further development work.  If they’ve gotten the message from a single source: their supervisor, an HR leader, etc. they may need broader feedback to raise their awareness.   A 360 degree feedback process and supportive interviews can be very effective with a leader that doesn’t see the need for change.

Once the leader has accepted the feedback, they need to see potential impact of committing (or not committing) to growth.  How would addressing these issues help them move forward in their career – and what are the risks associated with not addressing their development needs?  Because their strengths DO make them a valuable asset to the company, make sure to start by complimenting them on strengths and accomplishments.  Be honest and straightforward in specifying what the Star Performer needs to do to move to the next level.  Appeal to their goals and point out how these issues, if left unaddressed, can hinder their goals.  Give them assignments where they can development new skills, stretch, and challenge themselves.

What strategies are not effective?

 Ignoring their development needs is a mistake.  Because this leader has great potential, you don’t want them to be passed over for promotions or opportunities based on one or two critical issues.  Give them advice and options, but make sure that they are involved in deciding how to improve.  Don’t miss opportunities for them to stretch or challenging assignments that allow them to rise to the occasion.

To learn more about how to support the development of your Struggling Performers (Tasks), watch our recent webinar, “Leadership Coaching Strategies: How to Set Your Leaders Up For Success & Hold Them Accountable”


This post is part of a series focused on effective development/coaching strategies to use with five different types of struggling leaders and was developed for HR professionals interested in learning more about best practices in leadership coaching.  3D Group Senior Consultant Dr. Teresa Pappas shares recommendations on how to make progress and avoid stalls in leader development.