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Find a straw to stir the drink

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

by Morey Stettner

In his heyday as a baseball star, Reggie Jackson proclaimed himself “the straw that stirs the drink.” Jackson sought to place himself front and center on the team as the most important player, the one who made things happen.

You may not manage someone with Jackson’s overzealous ego. But you probably supervise a worker who prances around expecting star treatment.

You would think the economic downturn would tame these proud, pompous employees. But they’re equally annoying in good and bad times—and require the same high maintenance.

They’re not afraid of layoffs because they figure they are too valuable to lose their job. Even in a worst-case scenario, they assume that other employers will jump over each other to hire them. They simply don’t worry about job security.

If you manage a Reggie Jackson, you’re actually lucky to have a high-performing winner on your hands. Despite the prima donna attitude, you put up with the employee because he or she delivers in the clutch.

Every manager needs a talented star—a straw that stirs the drink. When deadlines loom and crises erupt, this go-to person can keep the team focused on results, shut down whiners and insist on high standards.

Embrace these egomaniacs with wide arms of acceptance. When I managed an outspoken star, I kept deferring to him because he was often right. He made my job easier by demanding excellence from himself and his peers.

Once, he made a boastful prediction that he failed to fulfill. Everyone gave him a good-natured ribbing. He didn’t like that. But he wound up exceeding even his high expectations over the next year.

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