Are You an Overachiever—And Is It Hurting Your Team?

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Achievement is a major driver of behavior. Both school and career tend to reward achievement, which encourages the desire to achieve.

However, when achievement is partnered with competitiveness and perfectionism, there is a dark side to this drive to succeed. This is amplified when an overachiever takes on a leadership position.

Read on to find out:

  • if you fit the definition of an overachiever
  • ways that an overachieving leader can damage productivity and diminish company culture
  • a look at the most effective leadership style

Am I an Overachiever?

The mere fact that you are driven to accomplish and succeed does not mean you are an overachiever. A desire to prosper is natural and can be part of a healthy and balanced approach to life.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you might be an overachiever:

  • Do you connect your self-worth to accomplishing tasks?
  • When you finish a big project or achieve a goal, do you celebrate and savor the moment or move on to the next task?
  • Do you seek challenging projects that allow you to achieve something new?
  • Are you often satisfied with your accomplishments, or are you always striving to achieve more?

If you answered:

  • Yes
  • Move on to the next task
  • Yes
  • Always striving

You are likely operating as an overachiever.

Overachievers have the drive to accomplish, but they are rarely able to savor their progress or recognize their achievements.

Shortfalls of an Overachieving Leadership Style

A relentless focus on goals and tasks can elevate you in your career to a place of leadership. Unfortunately, the same drive that helped you achieve a position of authority will undermine your ability to lead and foster a vibrant, healthy, and productive company culture.

Here are a few common shortfalls of overachievers in leadership.


An overly single-minded leader will ignore input from their team. They will seem arrogant and demanding, as if they have blinders on and can only see what they want without allowing other viewpoints or input.

Authoritative Leadership Style

Rather than coach and collaborate, drawing out the best ideas and performance from team members, overachievers tend to stifle their staff by commanding and coercing.

Poor Collaborators

Overachievers tend to forget to communicate essential information in their single-minded focus on accomplishing tasks and meeting objectives. With the focus on their goals and process, they can be unaware of the concerns of others. This makes them poor collaborators and can frustrate rather than empower their teams.

Pressure Without Praise

There is nothing wrong with asking a lot from your team. An effective leader can sometimes draw more from the people who work for them than they believe they could accomplish. However, employees need to feel heard and valued to foster a company culture of high performance and dedication.

Too much single-minded focus on achievement without recognition of the contribution and accomplishments of team members undermines morale and erodes trust. The result is a buildup of resentment that thwarts instead of supports productivity.

What is the Most Effective Leadership Style?

The most effective leadership style will depend on your team and the circumstances. It might be nice if there were a single leadership style that outshined the rest, but the truth is that different people are motivated differently. What works for one employee may confuse another.

The ideal strategy is to get comfortable with a variety of leadership styles so you have an effective leadership tool set you can employ depending on the composition of your team, the company culture, and the circumstances.

Effective leadership styles include:

  • Authoritative leadership
  • Transactional leadership
  • Servant leadership
  • Democratic leadership
  • Empathetic leadership

Great Leadership Can Be Learned

If you recognize that being an overachiever may be impacting your leadership style, you can apply your drive and focus to broaden your range. Leadership can be learned, and awareness is the first and more important step in the transformation.

In general, achievers tend to be competitive. They like to outperform others and keep their communication short and to the point. These are all effective traits, but they work best as tools in an arsenal of approaches. A leader who competes with their team can create a cut-throat and divisive company culture.

Individuals driven by socialized power get satisfaction from seeing their team get stronger. When they help someone become more capable, they see that as a rewarding achievement.

Shifting your mindset to supportive and effective leadership requires understanding that the people you lead are a goldmine of potential. You can channel your personal drive into new behaviors, expanding your perspective and skillsets as you do.

Compass is Here to Help

Whether you are looking for qualified, motivated candidates to join your team or would like expert consultants to help enhance your leadership style, Insight Global is here to help.

If you’re looking for additional leadership training, register for a free interactive workshop hosted by our culture consulting division, Compass. Each workshop has limited seats available to enhance group discussion.

During this workshop, you will:

  • challenge your way of thinking about leadership
  • focus on yourself as a leader
  • identify and pursue areas of personal growth

Spots are limited, so sign up today!

Lead Yourself First