The hazards of being a high performer

Posted June 22, 2009 in Latest News & Insights

Saturday’s Globe and Mail featured a front page article titled “Did we push her too much?” that explored the events that led up to the suicide of Major Michelle Mendes (the first Canadian female soldier to commit suicide in Afghanistan).

The story is heartbreaking.  By all accounts, Major Mendes was a star performer who had a wealth of talent to contribute.   And, at the same time, appears to have been under a great deal of pressure to maintain sky-high standards of achievement.

There’s no question, a certain amount of pressure is healthy, but what’s the tipping point?  And, do organizations exert too much pressure on their “best and brightest”.   A quote from the Globe article from one of Major Mendes superiors was particularly telling:

“I guess we always abuse the good people, in a certain way, because they’re so good, it’s always easy to rely on them.  And I guess they don’t want to disappoint the people around them. So they put a lot of pressure on themselves. They hide it very well.”

There is no question in my mind that fast trackers get less support than others because people expect that they’ll always land on their feet and be successful no matter how big the hurdles.  The challenge is providing these over achievers with the right kind of support before they find themselves in a career free fall (or worse).

Confidential, external advice and perspective is one of the most effective ways to help fast trackers keep their careers on the rails and not succumb to the internal pressure that they inflict upon themselves.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to get the confidential advice you need, we can help you find an external mentor or join a peer advisory forum.  Email info@theexecutiveroundtable.ca to find out about our complimentary Leadership Visioning session.

Leadership doesn’t have to be lonely… either at the top or on your way to the top.


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  1. During my sales positions my biggest problems came from others on my team envying my results. Little did they know I was scared out of my mind.

    • LeaderTalker says:

      Thanks Christine. I think so many high performers struggle with this. It’s really crucial to know when to reach out for support. We don’t need to try to go it alone!

  2. […] how you look at it) to have very long career runs without ever experiencing failure.  And many, as Christine commented in a previous post, are actually driving themselves to success in an attempt to avoid their own fear of […]