The Quest for Unicorn Employees

In fairy tales and folklore, unicorns are mystical creatures believed to possess magical powers. Their presence brings good fortune and prosperity, but they are rare, elusive, and mysterious — difficult to find and even harder to capture. So, what do unicorns have to do with the workplace? For different businesses, Unicorns are those employees with skills, talents, and capacities that endow the employers with exponential growth. These exceptional employees are known as rockstars, A-players, star performers, and high-flyers; however, no description is as fitting as unicorn employees.

Unicorn employees can be the backbone of innovation, a driving force behind success, and a secret weapon for any organization. But what exactly makes these employees so special, and how can leaders identify, retain, and leverage their potential?

Spotting a Unicorn Employee

Unicorn employees possess a unique blend of qualities that set them apart from the rest. They are driven by passion, not just a paycheck, and as such, are deeply invested in their work and motivated by a genuine desire to make a difference. Unicorn employees are nothing if not adaptable and thrive in diverse environments that provide challenges that they see as opportunities for growth. They are adept and innovative problem solvers thanks to a creative mindset and an innate ability to think “outside the box.”

Despite these exceptional abilities, unicorn employees do not forge ahead alone – they understand and deeply value teamwork. They are effective collaborators who foster a culture of inclusivity and cooperation. Additionally, they remain curious, always wanting to learn new skills and take risks. They embrace failure as a steppingstone to success much like Thomas Edison who famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Keeping a Unicorn Employee

Once you identify high performers in your organization, retaining them becomes paramount. Leaders do not want to lose a unicorn employee, especially to a competitor. To avoid this tragic loss, employers can take steps to build an environment that can contain not just one but multiple employees. 

  • Provide the right environment: Identify opportunities for these unicorn employees to take on leadership roles and empower them to lead meaningful change in your organization.
  • Nurture the relationship: Help unicorn employees connect their work to a larger purpose or mission by aligning organizational goals with their values and aspirations.
  • Tap into their network: Unicorn employees are forged through their work in one or more industries and often they create relationships with other high-performing individuals whom they can call upon to work with again.
  • The right culture is key: High-performing employees thrive when the company culture encourages experimentation and innovation.
  • Create a Bond of Trust: Foster open and transparent communication with these employees by encouraging them to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns openly, and being receptive to their feedback.

Leadership effectiveness consulting and coaching can provide valuable support and guidance to unicorn employees. Investing in unicorn employees can help them enhance their leadership skills, develop strategies for more effective stakeholder management, develop their EQ skills, navigate uncertainty and adversity with resilience, and achieve their full potential as leaders within their organizations.

Stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of leadership!

Capitalizing on a Unicorn

Unicorn employees are not just valuable assets; they are catalysts for organizational success and should be leveraged by leaders to positively contribute to the organization. Their ability to think creatively and challenge the status quo can drive innovation within the organization and lead to the development of new products, services, or processes that give the company a competitive advantage.

Because they typically set ambitious standards for themselves and others, a unicorn employee’s commitment to continuous improvement can raise the bar for performance across the organization, inspiring colleagues to work smarter and stretch to achieve their full potential. As role models, they help create a high-performance culture that drives business outcomes and contributes to the organization’s success. Whether it is exceeding sales targets, delivering projects ahead of schedule, or improving operational efficiencies, unicorn employees can impact the bottom line.

High-performing employees can help attract and keep other unicorns. High-performing and driven employees seek to work alongside and learn from the best in the field. The opportunity to collaborate with unicorn employees can be a powerful retention tool – employees are more likely to stay with an organization where they have the chance to grow and develop under the mentorship of exceptional colleagues.

Making Unicorns?

Attaching a horn to a horse does not make it a unicorn. Similarly, unicorn employees are individuals with innate skills, traits, and attributes that set them apart from their peers – things that cannot be taught.

However, coaching can play a significant role in helping employees maximize their potential and develop the qualities associated with unicorn employees. Through personalized coaching sessions, employees can identify their strengths, areas for improvement, and career aspirations. Coaches can provide guidance, support, and resources to help employees enhance their skills, build confidence, and overcome challenges. Further, coaching can help employees cultivate leadership abilities, foster effective communication and collaboration skills, and develop a growth mindset—all of which are qualities often associated with unicorn employees.

While coaching cannot transform an employee into a unicorn, it can undoubtedly help individuals unlock their potential and become valuable contributors to their organizations. By investing in coaching and development initiatives, organizations can empower employees to excel in their roles, drive innovation, and contribute to organizational success.

Unicorn employees are not merely exceptional individuals; they are valued employees who play a pivotal role in overall organizational success by driving innovation, setting high standards, inspiring others, achieving outcomes, enhancing collaboration, and attracting and retaining talent. By identifying, retaining, and leveraging their talents effectively, leaders can unlock and leverage their magic, i.e., full potential, to positively impact the organization’s bottom line.

LEAD3R can help you identify, recruit, retain, and amplify unicorn employees. Contact us today to find out how!

Speak with One of Our LEAD3RSHIP Experts

Related Posts

Leave a Reply