Leadership Lessons: What Do Super Achievers, Rebels, and Leaders Need to Change?

Summary: The way OUT of constant conflict is to help your employees learn leadership skills for now and into the future. Systems thinking and releasing outdated behavior patterns are vital for success.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

The economy is making everyone cringe, quiver, twitch, and worry.

There are more constant conflicts with my staff than ever before.

I think it is because everyone fears impending layoffs and potential staff firings. Everyone strengthens their position and hopes to survive.

Leadership programs for everyone can save time and heighten productivity.

I wonder if there are any leadership tips or programs to give me some guidelines on handling the tension between a super achiever perfectionist and a rebel “attack dog” who wants to stop any particular attention to the “top dogs.” 

I need them to collaborate rather than destroy each other.


Peace Enforcer

Dear Peace Enforcer,

Oh, if it were only easy to mandate peace.

Viewing the world based on respect, appreciation, and empathy would be fascinating.

While we are not there except a tiny bit, it is a robust vision for the future.

Leadership Programs for everyone are becoming a work priority.

And I believe that work, where we spend much of our lives, can be a vital area in helping individuals become their best selves.

Here I suggest a way OUT of the sludge through which we are now slowly walking.

It’s about a shift of mindset to look at work conflict situations from a systemic vantage point. Here all connections matter, rather than our present either/or mentality.

I suggest you learn to observe your employees’ behavior patterns and find ways to help them help themselves.

Let’s start with my method of getting OUT of difficult situations.

New ways of leadership development require understanding personal and group behavior patterns.

  • Firstly, the key is to Observe: Start by looking at how similar responses appear repeatedly.

Did you ever watch the behavior of the best, most revered employees who win all the awards? I mean, those always chosen for the plum extra prominent assignments.

What is it, everyone wonders, that makes them able to skate on thin ice and never fall through the cracks?

How do they stay in the limelight and continue to rise through the ranks with ease and comfort?

Behavior patterns can help or hinder work productivity.

A curious question often goes with super achievers. “Are they respected or pitied?

Mostly, they want applause and praise. They become ornery and often degrade or ignore others when in their way.

For example, that means while the pattern of perfection seems flawless and success is guaranteed, It can also cause extreme fear and worry.

The super achiever is often afraid of letting themselves and others down.

The need to be perfect can become an obsession.

Hold on a minute, and let’s factor in the rebel.

That is the one who has a pattern of fighting against authority. No matter who says what, the rebel must rail against the establishment and make those in power wrong, stupid, and corrupt.

Then the seeds of antagonism spread everywhere in the organization.

Leadership programs for everyone must include understanding how systems work in relationships.

In both situations, these patterns are at least a two-party affair.

When you think about the system these individuals live in, you get a clearer understanding of what you, as a leader, can do.

Here is how it plays out at work.

An unconscious bargain is created, and a pattern is immediately implemented. The super achiever is, of course, intelligent and talented.

Yet, that is not enough.

Often, the non-verbal message from the boss is, “I will appreciate and take care of you if you do what I know is best. And you must not disappoint me.”

No boss would ever be so blunt with an employee.

The super achiever and the boss are in this type of unholy alliance. They depend on each other to play their parts, and success is assured. How, in heaven’s name, does this happen?

Conflict increases with the need to sustain a pattern that has lost its importance.

And the rebel? The one who causes so much grief and becomes a human resource nightmare. Often, they speak the unspeakable. Therefore, favoritism is discussed, regardless of the consequences.

The rebel and the super achiever often play opposite roles in work dynamics.

These are two of the most common patterns in the workplace. The rebel’s antagonism to the influences of the boss is as potent as the super achiever’s compliance with what the boss requests.  

This reaction is called “polarized fusion.” It is two sides of the same coin.

Here is when you, as a leader, can be helpful to both sides of the equation.

Let’s take this down a notch.

  • Next is to Understand: Do some research to find where the pattern repetition began.

Leadership Programs for everyone include knowledge of how family relationships appear at work.

In our original organization, the family, these patterns appear in childhood. Then when we go to work, we find someone who “feels familiar.” If the pattern to please or rebel is strong enough, we play that role in our new organization at work.

This is often hard to accept. We want to see ourselves as all grown up and mature. However, the patterns from childhood so often replicated at work.

For example, a coaching client of mine was a bonafide super achiever. She always, and I mean always, wanted to please her boss, to be the favorite, the best.

To clarify, she grew up with a demanding father. To please him, she worked hard and then harder. She wanted to make her dad proud of her.

And thus, the super achiever was born.

Patterns will knock until you open the door to new ways of responding.

One day, she saw her reaction in a meeting with her boss in bright lights. He always gave her too much extra work. She turned and almost said, “Dad, I cannot do this,” just as she caught what was about to come out of her mouth.”

Finally, exhausted, she agreed to look more deeply at her patterns. She did the work to understand her ways.

In her words, “When I almost called him “dad,’ I felt sick. I saw, for the first time, that all my hard work, all my need to be “top dog” was to please him.

The rebel must, and I mean must, right the wrongs of society. They often grew up in a family seen as “second-class citizens.”

Now, both the super achiever and the rebel can make positive changes.

  • Finally, it is time to Transform: Discover actions to break free from ingrained, outdated behavior.

Get rid of intense conflict and be open to collaboration by becoming pattern aware.

This is new work for contemporary organizations. It is time to help individuals see where they are stuck in pattern repetition. Then offer communication methods for more effective ways to relate to each other.

The first key is observing this behavior and learning to accept it as fact. Then become pattern pioneers to understand its origin. And the most crucial part is transforming the pattern so change can happen.

One place to get more information is in my book Don’t Bring It To Work, especially Chapter 5, which explores your family patterns for work success.

I suggest you offer my Leadership Program for Everyone to grow and become their best selves. When you observe, understand, and then learn methods to transform ingrained, outdated patterns, the conflict is resolved in minutes or hours, not days or longer.

It can save lots of time and angst and increase productivity and creativity when you help your staff stop pattern repetition at its source.

Here’s to your success,

Sylvia Lafair

PS. For more information, please fill out a contact form, and one of our coaches will get back to you pronto.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options