Just as the best athletes on a team often expect and get special treatment when it comes to violating the rules or ethical norms, top performers in the business world often believe their productivity will shield them from discipline for such things as expense reporting fraud and sexual harassment. Sometimes, the”golden boys or girls” simply act like jerks at the expense of fellow workers.
How the company handles misbehaving top performers regarding decisions such as discipline and promotion will be well noted and create or destroy a managers reputation regarding integrity, fairness, consistency and courage.
It is easy to rationalize more lenient treatment of top producers because of the risk of taking a double hit: 1) losing the employee and the benefits he/she has been bringing and 2) the likelihood that the employee will go to work for a competitor, helping them and hurting you further.
Character is tested, revealed and strengthened on the battlefield of real life where decisions have serious consequences.
Managers prove themselves to be leaders when they do what is right even when it costs more than they want to pay because they understand that the cost of losing credibility and moral authority outweighs the benefits of expedient compromise.
The good news is that most top performers will behave if they are convinced they have to.