HELP I hired an Idealist

Recently I have been working with a young woman who has a very strongly entrenched set of personal ideals. By this I mean that she has a preconceived idea of how others should behave, what types of interactions should be tolerated, what is right and wrong and what is generally acceptable. To me this sounds like a person with a well defined personal compass, right?

Many leaders are able to recount a time when a young idealistic employee joined their ranks. This person comes in bubbling with enthusiasm about how they are going to change the world to meet their expectations or ideals only to fail miserably for some unknown reason. Soon, they settle for the realities of the workplace and grudgingly accept their place in life, their spark extinguished and their enthusiasm waning.

Leaders identify idealists by the way they seem to drift away from other employees. Often these employees can’t identify with other's behavioral uniqueness, they are often critical of entrenched policies and procedures, and they may be quite vocal about their general discontent. The challenge as leaders is to take the time to work with these young idealistic employees so they retain their enthusiasm, while redirecting their expectations and ideals to the realities of the work environment.

The best method of redirection is coaching. When coaching your staff, always tune the conversation to how the employee will benefit or gain from refined behaviours or interactions. Find ways to gently identify methods for the employee to engage with others more effectively. Most importantly, identify that their behaviours are having consequences with others.

Idealists generally are not trying to create dissent or conflict. Usually they are trying to resolve the gap between their perception of the world and realities of the world they live in.


Jeremy is a passionate business consultant who understands the realities of economies, stafing and delivery of service based business. He started his working life in sales and marketing where his high-energy personality and terrific speaking voice led him to an early career in radio and television. He eventually moved to Canada’s North, where he was recruited by the Canadian Federal Government where he spent almost a decade teaching career planning, skils devlopment and public services. Quickly ...

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