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January 27, 2010


Gordon R. Clogston

Scott, I could not agree more. I have inherited employees who enjoyed the Prima Donna status. I first took steps to minimize the loss of their skill sets and then terminated them. Fortunately, I was in an at-will situation and there were no protected class issues.

There is no question, Prima Donnas are destructive to the long-term success of organizations, especially when they are in management and their abusive nature is visited on their direct reports.

Vinay Kumar

Hey Scott,

Great post. I must admit that I earlier in my life, I was one of those Prima Donna's you refer to. While I wasn't demanding in the sense you speak of, I had the feeling "my way or the highway".

When I then moved from being a subject matter expert to team lead, it was tough, both on me and my team. Everytime someone didn't do something my way or as "perfectly", I would take it back. It was demoralizing to the team and my work load just got heavier and heavier.

It took me a long time to learn that my way isn't the only way and to let go. Once I realize that, and overcame my own underlying fears, everything improved, including my own quality of life and work became more joyful for me and my colleagues.

So I agree. Speaking as a former Prima Donna, either they change their ways, or they gotta go. Recalling the damage I caused to many early in my career, by keeping them, it's more damaging in the long run.

gfe--gluten free easily

This might be your best post, yet! How many times I've witnessed and endured the prima donna factor in my career! Your points on why the prima donna should be fired are totally on target. Unfortunately, the reality is that so often that prima donna has been coddled and his/her egregious actions swept under the rug (or at least downplayed), so even when the manager has the moment of clarity on firing the employee, his/her performance appraisals do not equal those of one who should be fired. In the corporate world, those HR rules must be followed. So what do you do then? I know what usually happens ... the person is let go in the next downsizing.


Jennifer Tucker

Agree with the article and all the comments, and yet, there is some underlying drive, confidence, and determination to prima donnas (PD's) that remains somewhat admirable.

When I was 24, I worked in an office with a person that was very close to being a PD. Someone was complaining about him to our boss, saying, "He seems to think his job is the most important one around here." My boss replied, "I wish EVERYONE thought their job was the most important one around here." It really struck me at the time, a reframe that I found intriguing and have not forgotten.

Work - life - is a balance between Self and Other. Sometimes the line between prima-donna, and someone who is healthily expressing personal power, accountability, and the desire for just rewards is a really gray one. The key is for leaders to be able to see and appreciate the difference - and to be able to recognize which at-risk PDs are coachable, saveable, and possible lifelong assets in the rough.


Thank you and I couldn’t agree more. Coincidentally another leadership coaching site/blog/podcast that I subscribe to talks about the same thing in their latest post.

This one deals with how to deal with an arrogant producer and dovetails nicely with this most recent submission.


I was led to this post by your recent remarks about the Olbermann firing on I appreciate the insight into PD (prima donna) behavior. Do you have advice for Team Players when the boss will not manage the PD? Our boss has received consistent and widespread feedback about the impact of PD behavior on morale & productivity, yet he refuses to respond. We are coping as best we can, but it is not a healthy or professional situation.

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