How to Lead a High-Performing Diva

In the last two months, three clients have coincidentally been talking to me about high-performing divas in their team. While these divas, according to them, were exceptional at their work and produced results, their collaborative spirit was less than exceptional. My clients were frustrated – they wanted to figure out how to lead their high-performing divas who are reluctant to collaborate and help others succeed, especially when it comes to peer groups.

A diva in the team may come across as a hassle, thanks to uncanny ability to annoy others and alienate their co-workers. However, a high-performing diva is a treasure that you should nurture so that you have a super-charged team that produces results despite working alongside a diva.

If you cannot lead and manage a high-performing diva, their attitude can be detrimental to the workplace culture and other colleagues. While these prima donnas can have moments of agreeability and pleasantness, their self-interest and selfishness take precedence. That is why many managers find them a nuisance. Nonetheless, they can be managed and led while keeping their negative attitudes and impact on co-workers and organisational work culture to the minimal.

After comparing notes with several C-suite clients who have successfully leveraged on their high-performing divas, here are four tips if you face such a situation:

Tip 1 – Observe & Give Feedback

Divas are self-absorbed, oblivious to their flaws and societal norms. So, they are unaware that they are  petulant, rude and obnoxious. The best way to make them aware of their inadequacies is to observe and provide prompt feedback. Do this in private, in a one-to-one talk, to give the diva something to ponder on.

Tip 2 – 360-Degree Feedback

Some high-performing professionals have the misconception that their success is due to their personality and attitude. To break this belief, it is necessary to present data. Divas react more positively when they have data in front of them. Data cannot lie, especially when presented by a person in authority which is you or someone they respect.

Tip 3 – Tough Love

If you have concluded the behaviours are unacceptable and do not align with the corporate values and culture, establish clear-cut guidelines about conduct and the consequences. Remember, the aim is not to fire the diva as that would be counterproductive. Think carefully and come up with consequences that the diva would have to endure (yes, that is the right term) for each unacceptable behaviour. Write down the guidelines and the consequences so that there is no scope for ambiguities. Make sure you enforce the guidelines stringently, tough love is what your diva needs to weigh each behaviour carefully before displaying it.

Tip 4 – Coaching

Divas need support to change without disturbing their equilibrium and performance. You can accomplish through coaching. Do not present coaching as a punishment. Instead, present it as a support system that helps them work better and achieve success through others. Keep reinforcing that you value their work. attitudes.


High-performing employees can keep other team members on their toes. So, it is a good thing to have such employees as they are smart, driven and hard-working, albeit their annoying behaviours. As a manager, determine the best path to deal with the diva in your team so that you have a productive and efficient team. The best way to ensure this is to be fair to other team members, engage your high-performing diva and provide the necessary support based on company policies to achieve positive outcomes. Leading with tough love, honesty, firm hand and honesty is the best way to bring out the best in your diva and other employees.