On managing the golden goose

2018 marked my third year leading a team of highly intelligent people. People much better and more brilliant than myself. That really is the main objective in my view of a hiring manager, to hire people who are better than you and ensure you constantly bring out the best in them.

In my role as a manager, I have had to deal and interact with people with egos as big as my own 😊. Unfortunately for me, these people are also most times more intelligent, seen to be more innovative and more qualified sometimes for my job than I am – or so it seems.

But how do you handle the proverbial golden goose aka star player? How do you ensure that their toxic attitude and titanic ego doesn’t get in the way of work, how do you still bring out the best in them while ensuring they remain motivated just like the rest of the team?

Manage your own ego, then that of your golden goose

As a manger and leader of a team, taming my own ego has been a journey that I have had to intentionally embark on. By s doing, it not only gives me the humility to accept that I will never have all the solutions and that there are much better than me out there. Success is the main enemy of success and it is to ego what petrol is to fire. Unchecked ego is destructive, ego is the enemy. From Ryan Holidays book “Ego is the Enemy” he defines ego as “Unhealthy belief in our own importance”.

Star Payers always have blotted egos, turning their concern into obsession and Confidence into arrogance – sometimes subtle with a false humility and other time public arrogance.

For Each fighter, to become great, he needs to have someone better that they can learn from, someone lesser who they can teach, and someone equal that they may challenge themselves against. ~ Frank Shamrock

Find their reward language and work it

Like the five languages of love, we all have our reward language. Some of us would use financial reward, others just recognition and others still opportunity to teach or coach others. In my case, I have always ensured I get knowledge on the reward language of the golden goose. Identification of reward language entails a lot of variables key to observe is the actual communication style, there are those who for instance use “I did…” as opposed to “We did…” this in most cases is a clear sign of someone who likes public recognition and accolades ensure you deliver them at every available opportunity. However, exercise some caution as this may negatively impact the rest of the team if not done the right way.

As a manager and leader of the team, it is vital that you always be quick to give credit to the team and take blame 😊 or ownership of failures that is just what it is.

Let the goose Wander Away, save the team

Sometimes the only alternative you have is to let the golden goose wander away. It is always about bringing out the best in the team, this is one lesson I have learned as a manager and a team leader. I highlighted in my earlier articles on conflict here that conflict is good for the team, however, there are levels that conflict can become toxic.

When you have tried everything, you have in your arsenal, then this is the option you are left with. Ensure that you manage the goose out in an intelligent way and communicate this clearly to the team as well. This would ensure that any wrong perceptions are eliminated and that the team understands that you would rather have a team working cohesively than sacrifice everyone else to have one shining star.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. ~ Michael Jordan


Ouko Joseph is a Father and a Leader in the making. A passionate student of leadership

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