Are You at Risk of Losing Your Rising Stars?

Rising stars are great performers and a welcomed advantage for any leader. But if you’re not careful with how you manage them, you can easily lose them to another organization.

To provide guidance on this important topic, I turned to Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results by Victor Prince and Mike Figliuolo. This article is adapted from the insights shared in the book.

Promote Your Rising Stars

No matter how much rising stars enjoy their roles on your team, you have to realize they aren’t likely to remain in those roles for long. They’re going to be looking for their next big opportunity soon — if they’re not doing so already.

It’s a huge mistake to be selfish and stifle a rising star’s aspirations to keep them on your team.

Help rising stars articulate their career goals and advise them on precisely what it will take to achieve them within your organization. Prepare them for their next move by helping them acquire the new skills they’ll need for their next assignment and advertise their skills and talents to other leaders.

Provide rising stars with as much autonomy as possible to give them more room to build their skills. They’ll appreciate the increased freedom and the trust you’re demonstrating in them.

You owe it to your organization to proactively find advancing roles for rising stars that meet their career aspirations so the company don’t lose them to a competitor. You must be willing to let a rising star move to another department and you should help facilitate the move whenever possible.

Don’t Hoard Talent

If you tend to hoard talent, talented employees will seek new employment elsewhere and you’ll have difficulty attracting great new talent.

Your efforts toward moving employees on to bigger roles are good for your organization and they can pay dividends for you personally too. Being a rising star’s mentor can be an advantage for your own career, and doing so can help you attract and build a talented team.

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If you build a reputation for helping talented people join your organization, grow, and then move on to bigger roles, other high potential employees will notice. Before you know it, you’ll have a steady stream of high performers knocking on your door asking if you have any open jobs in your department.

They’ll do this because they’ll know they can come to your team for career development – knowing you won’t hold them back, but that you’ll guide them to their next great role after your team.

Talent Attracts Talent

Since talent attracts talent, ask rising stars to help recruit their replacements when they are ready to advance.

This dynamic will make it much easier for you to fill open roles on your team and can reduce the amount of effort you expend recruiting. You’ll have a more talented candidate pool to choose from because the high performers and rising stars from other organizations will be looking to fill the open roles on your team.

Once they do join your team, you’ll have productive team members delivering great results. While in the short term it hurts to lose a rising star to another leader, long term it’s a great method for building a high-performing team and a thriving organization.

A version of this appeared previously on

Named as one of the Ten Best and Brightest Women in the incentive industry and to the Employee Engagement Power 100 list, a Change Maker, Top Idea Maven, and President’s Award winner, Michelle is a highly accomplished international speaker, author, and strategist on performance improvement. A respected authority on leadership, workplace culture, talent and employee engagement, she’s a trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful organizations and the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States.

Michelle speaks and writes about what she knows first-hand – as a former executive of a Fortune 100 global conglomerate, and as a researcher and strategist. She passionately shares new insights and tools for leaders to confidently, effectively and strategically lead their organizations to success.

Michelle is the Past President of the FORUM for People Performance at Northwestern University and President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association. Michelle was the Founder and Chair of the Editorial Board of Return on Performance Magazine, and has been featured on Fox Television, the BBC, in Fortune, Business Week, Inc. and other global publications, and contributed to the books Bull Market by Seth Godin, Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk, and Social Media Isn’t Social.   




4 Comments on “Are You at Risk of Losing Your Rising Stars?

  1. If you want to keep someone good, I suggest you give them a “multi-year, guaranteed raise/bonus, no-layoff-without cause” employment contract.
    Remember: “loyalty= cash-flow.”

    1. Agreed. I hear lots of complaints about millennials and their tendency to job-hop. I’d argue one of the major reasons they do so is that companies do not offer them the long-term trust or development opportunities they seek. You need mutual trust to grow a long-term working relationship.

  2. Some really solid points in this article, and I agree with Keith: The best way to keep your rising stars is to show faith in them and reward them for their work. One point I would like to argue is that sometimes, talent leaving isn’t such a bad thing. In the case of boomerang employees (, some time away to develop and grow can pay off handsomely. It does require your company to have a certain infrastructure in place to facilitate their return though.

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