Episode 56: Extraordinary Performers- Why You Need Them & How to Keep Them

The 90th Percentile: An Unconventional Leadership Podcast

Published: November 9, 2022


In a society that showers attention on those in power, it is valuable to remember that those in the C suite are not the only ones doing the remarkable everyday work that causes organizations to excel.  Much of the excellence comes from the host of people who conscientiously get work done and constantly look for ways to do it better. In this episode, we’re talking about extraordinary performers, why you need them and how to keep them.

Key Insights

  • We collected 24,826 evaluations on 2,055 individual contributors. Using those evaluations, we looked at the “good” performers who were rated at the 30th to the 70th percentile and compared them to the “best” performers (those were rated above 90%).
  • We found that many individual contributors have a tendency to become excellent sandbaggers. They assume their manager will keep piling on work until they reach a point where they can’t accomplish all the work that has been assigned.
  • We found that the best individual contributors were highly effective at achieving objectives that required a high level of cooperation from people in other parts of the organization.
  • It was fascinating that the best individual contributors were highly effective at representing the group to other groups in the organization.
  • For some individual contributors, it is not the lack of feedback that is the problem; it is that they are constantly giving feedback in a negative way, resulting in distrust and anger in the organization.

Connect with Jack Zenger


Zenger Folkman hosts an exclusive live webinar every month, where you can meet Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman, and join in a conversation about their latest research in leadership development. Find out more information and register here.

Additional Resources

Extraordinary Performers: Why You Need Them and Hope To Keep Them– Forbes Article by Jack Zenger