Disruptive Stars

I recently came across the brief article below in my Workforce Week management online newsletter, and I thought it would be worthy of discussion by the tompeters.com community. This issue, of course, relates to the business world as well. So, what are the implications?

Disruptive Stars: The controversy surrounding pro football star Terrell Owens is generating much discussion in the business community about how managers should deal with disgruntled high performers. Owens, a multitalented wide receiver with the Philadelphia Eagles, recently was suspended by the team for making disparaging remarks about teammates. Professors at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania say Owens' case points up management lessons for people in human resources, especially relating to acting swiftly to deal with a star employee's disruptive behavior. Says Thomas W. Dunfee, a professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton: "For corporations, it's understood that if you have a double standard and look the other way for your star performers who are behaving poorly, you are corrupting the organization. The stars think ethical rules don't apply to them." Katherine A. Nelson, another Wharton instructor, says failing to address bad behavior is "tantamount to lobbing a grenade into a conference room" that produces resentment and undermines performance. "The Eagles are a perfect example of this." Adds Robin Bond, a workplace expert who is not affiliated with Wharton: "High-performing individuals who require excessive praise, have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment, or lack concern for the feelings and needs of others can initially make a positive impact on an organization's bottom line, but are often destructive (in the) long term."