Executive Wisdom: The 8 Traps of High Achievers

“Many high performers would rather do the wrong things well than do the right thing poorly.”
~ Thomas J. DeLong and Sara DeLong, “The Paradox of Excellence,” Harvard Business Review, June 2011

Leaders are high achievers who continually grow as professionals. But in many organizations, there are high achievers who are floundering. They’re smart, ambitious professionals who aren’t as productive or satisfied as they could be.

If you’re a high achiever, then you’re used to winning and accustomed to turning out remarkable performance. But what happens when you’re in over your head or on an accelerating treadmill that’s going nowhere fast?

For example, when challenged by new technologies or strategic game changes, you’re probably unwilling to admit it and often refuse to ask for help. The very strengths that led you to the fast track can steer you toward poor performance.

High performers exhibit eight typical behaviors which can be overcome with practice.

This article suggests six steps to break out of the traps typical of high-achievers in order to develop character, virtue, and executive wisdom.


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The complete 1800 word article includes these important concepts:

  • 8 Traps of High-Achievers
  • Breaking Out of Traps
  • 6 Steps to Practice
  • Making Good Use of a Coach
  • Developing Character and Wisdom


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