Managing the Downside of a High Achiever Personality

As an entrepreneur, you probably possess the high achiever personality traits that drive you to success. You make things happen. You turn negatives into positives. You have vision and focus on achieving your goals. You’re disciplined and analytical. All the traits of success. So why do I say that they could sink your business?

The downside of a high achiever personality

While having lofty goals and a drive to achieve them is admirable, it can blind you to what you have achieved. You don’t give yourself the opportunity to celebrate your successes, and constantly strive for your next win – which, of course, comes and goes as you move to another target achievement.

On a personal level, you become all work and no play. You don’t take the time out that you should, and you start to neglect other things in your life that are important. Your health and future performance are likely to be affected. It’s called burnout.

Your high achiever mentality is also likely to affect your business. Sure, it will spur it on to grow faster and crush sales and revenue targets. But your high achiever personality also means you expect the same of others around you. Consequently, you give little praise, don’t allow others to rest, and risk the reputation of an ungracious slave driver.

5 high achiever personality traits to manage

Let’s look at five of the high achiever personality traits, the little discussed downsides to them, and how to manage them.

  1. Vision

To achieve, you must have vision. You must be able to visualize your future to create your personal and business goals. Focusing on these goals, you develop a plan to achieve them. Milestones to hit on the way.

There are two problems that arise from the tunnel vision that can afflict high achievers. 

First, while it’s admirable to be highly focused, you could develop such detailed plans that any obstacle or hurdle in the way that thwarts them – perhaps causing delay or cancellation entirely – means you feel as if you have underachieved. You come down hard on yourself or others around you.

Second, your tunnel vision leads to missing of other opportunities. You fail to take advantage of an evolving market because your goals are set in stone.

How do you manage your vision? 

Be receptive to your customers’ needs and desires. Maintain an eye on the world around you, and learn from innovations that you can adapt to your business.

  1. Drive

Your motivation and focus drive you to work ever harder. You are constantly searching for the next challenge to overcome, constantly stretching toward your next achievement. Again, you expect the same from your people. If you are working 12 or 14 hours a day, then why can’t your employees?

While hard work and dedication are admirable qualities, your focus on work means your to-do list is constantly added to. There is always something you can do to move you a step nearer your goal. You may say that you value your family and friends, but you have little time for them. You are a workaholic.

Your personal identity becomes your professional identity. You neglect the things you once loved to do, the things that bring balance and good mental health to your life.

How do you manage your drive?

You don’t need to work harder to achieve your goals. You need to work smarter. Delegate more. Use systems that automate repetitive tasks. Have personal goals as well as professional and business goals, and make time to achieve them. Finally, understand that your employees and other business partners also have their own lives to lead. You’ll be rewarded with greater loyalty, better openness, and higher productivity.

  1. Responsibility

Of course, you take your business seriously. You feel responsible for it, 24/7. But your sense of responsibility goes further. It can lead to overcommitment, and making promises that you cannot keep. You find it hard to say no to customers, and this results in stretching yourself too thinly.

When this happens, you risk missing your self-imposed targets and disappointing customers, who may look for better service elsewhere. Your revenues and reputation could be left in tatters.

How do you manage your responsibility?

Learn to manage your boundaries. Be clear on what you can achieve in a year, a month, a week, and a day. Run your diary diligently, making space for you and prioritizing tasks. Manage your time more effectively by planning, taking time to re-energize, and learning to say no and delegate.

  1. Action-oriented

You like to be busy, working on accomplishing tasks. While this helps you to get through your task list, it can also mean neglecting relationship building. Instead of treating employees, customers, and business partners as meaningful additions to your life, your relationships become a string of shallow transactions.

Transactional relationships do not develop loyal customers and employees. There will always be mistrust, and people are more likely to move on faster. You’ll need to win customers because of increasingly damaging pricing. Your margins will be eroded, or you’ll be forced to use inferior raw materials, reducing the quality of your products and consequently the price you can command.

How do you manage your need to be doing?

Manage your tasks more effectively. Decide on those that you must do, and those that can be delegated. When delegating tasks, choose who you give them to wisely. To do this, build employee relationships based upon knowledge of strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Instead of instructing others, coach them and help them develop skills that will be useful to them and you in the future.

Make time each day to reach out to your connections, and develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with each. Learn what your customers’ problems are. You never know what opportunities this knowledge could uncover.

  1. Analytical

Is your decision-making driven by your analysis of available data? Many high achievers want to be sure of the logic of a decision before acting on it. While this should help to reduce errors and poor strategic planning, it means you may neglect the heart of your business: your people.

If you need to switch things up, shift through a few gears, or do things differently, you need your people to come with you. They need to believe what you believe, and this trust and belief is rarely promoted by referring to data and statistics. You need to win their hearts and minds.

How do you manage your analytical approach?

Understand that emotions influence decision-making. Learn about your people, what makes them tick, and what makes them fearful, and speak to their motivations.

For example, if you are considering a new system, don’t phrase it as, “This will improve our productivity by 20%.” They will hear, “We’ll be losing one in five jobs.”

Instead, explain the benefits to your employees. How the new system makes their job easier, and reduces errors. How it will improve the sales process, improve margins, and give them more opportunities to develop their careers and time with their families.

Here’s what I know

Entrepreneurs are naturally high achievers. The best are not blinded by their need to achieve. They set goals, take notice of the world around them, and adapt to evolving markets. They manage their relationships and their personal lives – even those who work substantial hours of the day make time to grow personally as well as professionally.

Tell me, how driven are you to succeed? What goals have you set yourself, and how do you plan to achieve them? Do you have a time management system in place that helps you manage each day and move toward your goals?

Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you, and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have, either directly or in future articles.


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