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  • Writer's pictureDr. Cristina DiPietropolo

Stop Mentoring High-Performers!

Developing your employees is one of the most important things you will do as a leader. When you lead, a core focus should always be on growing your employees to help them improve in any way possible. Occasionally this is very easy, but sometimes it isn't as intuitive. Being able to adapt and adjust your leadership strategies to accommodate different needs is one of the qualities of a good leader that will always stand out. This article will explore how you can more effectively mentor all employees, not just your top performers.

Stop Focusing on Your "A Players" and See the Value in Your "B Players"

Even if we don't say it out loud, leaders naturally understand that not everyone on their team is a top performer. This is a normal part of leadership, but it may create a bad habit. Your "best" employees—A Players—are the employees that every leader loves to have. They respond well to mentorship. They learn and grow very quickly, and it is natural to gravitate towards them. However, when we do this in our leadership role, we limit ourselves—and the potential of our other employees.

Developing your employees is the ultimate objective, and this does not just apply to your top performers. Continually investing in A Players can be frustrating in the end because they sometimes struggle to adapt outside of their niche, and typically they are more interested in their career trajectory than anything else. B Players will be more incentivized to stay because of the time that has been invested in them, while A Players will happily jump ship if they encounter a better opportunity that propels them to the next level.[1]

Tips to Stop Underestimating Your B Players

Underestimating your B Players is a serious mistake, and you limit their potential by doing so. There are a few ways to ensure that you stop underestimating them and see them for their full potential.

  • Appreciate Their Unique Strengths and Skills—Your B Players' strengths and skills may not immediately stand out to you. However, these individuals do have their own unique strengths[1], and your role as a leader is to find out what skills they possess and help guide them towards improving them.

  • Job Fit—Sometimes, the difference between an A Player and a B Player is what is referred to as Person-Job-Fit.[2] Are your B Players in a place where they can thrive? If not, how can you get them there?

  • Biasing Assignments[1]A Players often seem like they are the most successful at handling big tasks. It usually comes down to them receiving opportunities that are not provided to B Players.

  • Support B Players and Give Them the Opportunity to Step Up[1]—You will never know what your B Players can do unless you give them the chance to show you.

The "Great Resignation" has resulted in severe labor shortages across multiple industries. Now more than ever, leaders and organizations need to think differently about how they identify talent within their organizations and the talent of individuals that may not necessarily be viewed as high performers. It's about the ability for leaders to adapt, pivot, and learn a new mindset. During these challenging labor shortage times – Don't Forget About Your B Players. They may be a great source of talent at your disposal that you are not considering!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you want to learn more, our 4-module Leadership Development Master Class for practitioners contains all the materials you'll need to strengthen your leadership skills to help you cultivate emotional connections with your employees. Email us at to schedule a meeting to learn more about how we can partner with you to turn your leadership goals into reality!

Dr. Cristina Rosario DiPietropolo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Leader Essentials Group, an executive consulting firm focused on organizational effectiveness. Extensive experience across multiple industries and highly skilled in the areas of strategic planning, organizational behavior, human resource management, change management, leadership, and digital marketing. Over ten years of teaching experience as a Visiting Professor of Management, with a special focus on leadership in entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and international management.


[1] Kislik, L. (2018, September 19). How to Retain and Engage Your B Players. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from [2] Kristof-Brown, A. L. (2000). Perceived Applicant Fit: Distinguishing Between Recruiters' Perceptions of Person-Job and Person-Organization Fit. Personnel Psychology,53, 643-671.

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