The Risk of Being the Top

According to author Francesca Gino, you are in danger if you’re the top performer of your team.  Top performers are usually rewarded with accolades, but there may be a worrisome underbelly of the public recognition, for in reality, the top may be a lonely place.  Isolation frequently results combined with resentments from other team members.

Research reveals that top performers produce 20 to 30 times more than the average employee in their fields.

Additional negative consequences can include:

  • Peers try to undermine the top team member’s effective work.
  • Moderate performing team members punish the top performer.
  • Peers dislike appearing lazy in comparison.
  • Research reveals the more collaborative a team is, the more they disrespect the top performer.

However, on a more hopeful note, if resources provided for or earned by the top team member are shared with the other team members, they often support the high performer. Managers also can set parameters encouraging team members to collaborate well with the high performer.  They also can recognize signs of burnout, isolation, dissatisfaction, disengagement in the top team member, and can intervene if necessary including EAP or clinical referrals.

So, it seems that a successful team can be enhanced by a peak performing member if the limelight is shared with the other team members in some way.


Enjoy the day!



The Problem with Being a Top Performer. Francesca Gina. Scientific American. July 5, 2017.

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