Diva Behavior

How to Deflate a Diva

Creative people are often the biggest rule-breakers. Why? Perhaps because we’re managing them all wrong.

By Ashley Keating

Creativity is a rare, highly sought talent—so much so that leaders often look the other way when their most creative people go full diva. 

Bad idea. According to a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, creative people often become more deviant when they’re ignored. They begin to feel like they’re not getting the credit they deserve, which fuels a sense of entitlement that can result in bad behavior like angry outbursts and hoarding of resources. 

Your best play: candor plus celebration. First, be clear that rules do apply to them—and hold them accountable. Zero tolerance. But also, recognize their special talents in other ways. Be effusive with public praise, be generous with compensation, and look for opportunities to reward them with special perks—as long as they’re within the norms of the organization, of course.

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Ng, Thomas W. H., and Kai Chi Yam. “When and Why Does Employee Creativity Fuel Deviance? Key Psychological Mechanisms.” Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 104, no. 9, 2019, pp. 1144–1163., doi:10.1037/apl0000397.