The 3 Types of People Exceptional Leaders Embrace

Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working directly with hundreds of people and indirectly acquainted with thousands. I have had the opportunity to learn from a diverse variety of managers and leaders in several different organizations. The end result is the development of a concept that considers the similarities and differences of human personality. It further challenges each employee and manager to be a STAR.

Human emotions are complex and ever-changing, however, the ideas that drive these STAR types do not need to be overly complicated. You can simply approach them as stereotypical workplace traits. Some are positive, some are negative, but in general, they certainly provide a concept to separate staff based on their intrinsic motivators.

Unlike the Myers-Briggs personality model which states you are born with a personality type that cannot change, you can and do change over time through internal and external influences. While an individual can make the conscious decision to change the STAR they want to be, it doesn’t necessarily change on a dime. The resulting effects of the STAR category go beyond a simple choice and are more often the result of behaviors directly linked to personal goals and desires.

As a leader, consider the underlying motivations associated with each type of STAR. Use your own past experiences and times when you have likely resembled each of the different STAR types to your advantage.

A) Rising STAR

People who are on the track to promotion and escalating their career would be classified as a Rising STAR. These employees stand out, take on additional responsibility, and are eager to move up the proverbial professional ladder. These are the employees who draw the attention and focus of leadership. This is because many leaders often see many aspects of themselves in these individuals.

  • Rapid: These employees are motivated by speedy growth. They are unsatisfied with staying in the same role or repetitive tasks. Through changes in duties or responsibilities, they can be satisfied by growth and exposure to new things.
  • Initiative: Rising Star staff members are generally self-motivated. Leaders need to be guides for them, helping them focus their energy on the tasks at hand.
  • Success: People in this group are not always the best at coping with failure. Success can be natural and they may be used to the positive attention.
  • Enthusiasm: Progression through the workforce comes with its hurdles. Those who strive to climb the professional ladder have a zest for their profession.

Managers should encourage these individuals to grow but encourage them more to be the best at each stage of their career. They may need to “slow down” and appreciate the experiences they can gain in their current role.

B) Shooting STAR

A staff member who seems to be more often focused on activities outside of their professional career can be categorized as Shooting STAR. They may be “working for the weekend” or counting down the hours left in the week in anticipation of their time spent away from work.

  • Significance: Everyone has a desire to be significant. More than any other category, these employees need to be recognized for their contributions.
  • Helpful: While their passions lay outside of the workplace, they still want to be a factor when asked or motivated.
  • Objectives: Team members who are not as self-motivated need defined goals to help them stay focused on the task at hand. Help them focus on their task at hand.
  • Optimistic: A negative mindset toward work may happen. The need for income becomes a burden, taking away from the things they want to concentrate on.
  • Treasure: These employees can be hidden gems among team members. Just because their emphasis is not on their career it doesn’t necessarily diminish their contributions.

These team members are frequently identified as not caring or not putting enough effort into the task at hand. This is the perfect type of person to refocus and redirect. Positive encouragement to do more, to gain more professional success, benefits both the employee and the team. Don’t write off these staff members. They can be an excellent employee, though they may need help to see it that way.

C) Rock STAR

Rock STAR team members are the standout individuals who you lean on in a pinch. They provide exemplary performance but do not necessarily want to be promoted. At the same time, they can be satisfied with their duties and responsibilities, and not interested in a promotion.

  • Results: Personnel who are categorized as Rock Stars are generally focused on the results of their work. They often take pride in the product they produce or the job they perform. Embrace it and encourage it.
  • Observant: The team members in this class are aware of their duties and the duties of those around them. They recognize when others are not meeting the expectations and also those who are excelling. They are a valuable resource to evaluate team morale and performance.
  • Communication: These employees tend to communicate well with superiors and other coworkers of all levels. They understand the value they can provide to others. As a manager or team leader, remember to take notice of their contributions and acknowledge their value by communicating with them regularly.
  • Knowledgeable: This part of the workforce is the cornerstone of productivity and business success. They produce because they know. Focused on learning and being the ‘go-to’ employee.

Do not forget about these employees! They are the backbone of your company’s success and often get lost in the mix of other stars because of the unsung nature of their success. They are not necessarily looking for the attention, but need to know the value they provide to the team.


Some STAR types are much easier to lead than others. Different types of people will be discouraging and frustrating to supervise. Take a moment and evaluate what type of star each of your subordinates is. Consider yourself in similar roles during your career and leverage your own experiences to improve your leadership and your team’s success.

Balance your time between different types of people. Be careful taking too much time in fostering Rising Stars. At the same time, don’t forget about the value those Rock Stars provide. You should never write off any team member but this is especially true in the case of a Shooting Star. Of all of the different types of stars, I believe this category has the most potential to positively impact your organization.

Think about how you can use both the strengths and weaknesses of your team to help them be a growing STAR, no matter their star type.

Brian Wagner’s Ignite Carroll 9 “Be an All-Star at Work and in Life” Presentation (5:14 min)

If this resonates with you, let’s continue the conversation! Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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