Why Your Superstars Cannot Stay

By March 4, 2016Leadership

your superstars can't stayA Letter to Senior Leadership

They’re passionate about work. They love what they do. Work is an integral part of who they are – they look to their jobs to challenge them, stimulate their minds, push them outside comfort zones, connect them with others, and ultimately enhance their lives.

These are what you call your superstars.

How fortunate that they ended up at your company!

Bad news, your superstars cannot stay.
And here’s why:

  • They love the autonomy you’ve given them. But at some point, they realized you didn’t care.
  • They don’t think they’re better than you are. They just wanted for so long for you to treat them the way they deserve to be treated.
  • They’re grateful you spoke so highly of them to the Board. They’re confused why you didn’t tell them directly, when the opinion wasn’t building them up in the interest of a business deal.
  • They’ve been told by multiple people on multiple occasions that they’re worth more than how they’re being treated/paid/recognized. They stuck up for you every time. Eventually, they had to question themselves.
  • They realized that they’ve proactively come to you with every policy or process change, every job candidate; they’ve proactively requested every evaluation, every raise, every suggestion that has helped them help you work towards success.
  • They’ve always been self-motivated. And hardest on themselves. They actually don’t really need you much for either of those things. They did need your support. The kind you gave whenever they asked you for it was useful, and helped for a while. But the unwarranted kind – the kind you haven’t delivered – that kind would’ve been nice. But it didn’t exist.

Your superstars have to leave you out of self-respect. They love their work, and want to continue to do so. So they can’t stay.

We know you understand.


Why Your Superstars Cannot Stay: A Note from Jon

The letter above is anonymous.

Although we’ve never published an anonymous post before, the raw honesty within this letter needs to be heard. As leaders, we get stuck into old practices or behaviors that may seem harmless but are making others feel their work is not valued or valuable. More than this, so many people work hard without much support, gratitude, or recognition.

What this is not about is receiving recognition for the sake of recognition. What it is about is recognizing many individuals who are doing their work with the goal of achieving a greater purpose and advancing the organizational mission. If we get too self-centered in our ways, we lose the passion of our team members.

Being more mindful leaders will translate into more mindful team members. We need a stronger connection between individuals within our work. We will grow in strength when we make this connection with the passionate contributors and leaders within our organizations.



From time to time, guest writers contribute to Thin Difference. Topics include leadership, career development, creativity, and mindfulness. Our mission is to "Cross the gap and lead with a new story line," inspiring Millennial leaders.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Jon, I’m so glad you decided to let someone share this without sharing their name. What a powerful way to honor them and send a message that so many can relate to. I’ve been there, felt that, persisted until it became clear that it was time to leave out of self-respect.

  • Jon, what a great article for leadership to open their eyes to their superstars of the organization. They need to do everything they can keep helping them grow even though they are at ROCKSTAR level. Just a great piece. What a shame to let your BEST leave. As leaders we must focus in on those people that make organizations shine. Have an awesome week Jon. Well written.

    • Jon Mertz says:

      Thank you, Cynthia. I am glad this person shared this perspective. It is critical for us as leaders to recognize the talent we have around us and tap into this talent as often as we can. Thank you! Jon

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