The Prima Donna Syndromestring(24) "The Prima Donna Syndrome"

Prima donna syndrome is a term used to describe individuals who display excessive egotism, arrogance, and self-centeredness in their professional and personal lives. This syndrome can be found in people from all walks of life, but it is often observed in those who have achieved (or “think” they have achieved) a level of success or fame.

I first recognized this with two individuals that I worked closely with, neither of whom had achieved a substantial level of success or fame, but they were beginning to, and they fell right into what I call the prima donna syndrome.

The first gentleman was a trainer within the company. He was a good trainer and very entertaining. The problem was – his territory was in horrible shape. He acted like a prima donna but performed like a deadbeat. The showman just couldn’t show up in results – but he behaved like he was the best in the company. The second person was a co-author of a recently published book. As soon as her name was on the book, you’d think she was born a queen. She jumped into the prima donna syndrome with both feet and treated everyone accordingly.

When individuals exhibit these characteristics, they may find it difficult to build and maintain positive relationships, both personally and professionally. The constant need for attention and validation, coupled with a lack of empathy for others, can create feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The prima donna syndrome is characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance and obsession with status, and an expectation of special treatment. Individuals with this syndrome often believe that they are the most talented, intelligent, and hardworking people in their industry. They demand recognition for their accomplishments, and they expect others to cater to their needs and desires.

Unfortunately, the prima donna syndrome can really have devastating effects on an individual’s career and personal life. Prima donnas often alienate colleagues and clients with their demanding and entitled behavior. They may refuse to collaborate with others, believing that they’re the only ones capable of achieving success. They may also become resentful or hostile when they don’t receive the recognition they feel they deserve.

One of the most insidious aspects of prima donna syndrome is that they can be really difficult to detect in oneself. Many individuals with the syndrome believe that they’re simply ambitious or driven, rather than arrogant or entitled. And as a result, they may be resistant to feedback or criticism, and they may struggle to form meaningful relationships with others.

Prima Donna Traits

Here are some of the traits I’ve observed relating to this behavior:

  1. Need for control: Individuals with prima donna syndrome often have a strong desire to control situations and people around them. They may become frustrated or angry when things don’t go their way and may try to exert their control over others through manipulation, bullying, or other tactics.
  2. Sense of entitlement: Prima donnas often have a belief that they are entitled to certain privileges, recognition, or treatment that others are not. They may feel that they are above the rules that apply to most or that they deserve special treatment simply because of their position or status.
  3. Lack of empathy: Prima donnas may have difficulty empathizing with others and may dismiss the opinions or feelings of those around them. They may lack the ability to understand or appreciate the perspectives of others and often come across as cold, aloof, or uncaring.
  4. Inability to take feedback: Individuals with prima donna syndrome may become defensive or angry when receiving feedback or criticism. They may view any suggestion for improvement as a personal attack and may be unwilling to acknowledge or address their shortcomings.
  5. Need for attention: Prima donnas often crave attention and may behave in ways that draw attention to themselves. They may seek to be the center of attention or may use attention-seeking behavior to feel validated or important. This was the case with the co-author I mentioned above.
  6.  Poor team player: Individuals with prima donna syndrome may be unwilling to collaborate or work with others. They may belittle or dismiss the contributions of other people and may view themselves as the sole authority on a given topic or task.
  7. One additional trait of individuals with prima donna syndrome is their tendency to think that they are above menial tasks or mundane responsibilities. They may believe that these tasks are beneath them and that they should only be focusing on the “important” work. However, this can lead to them being seen as lazy or entitled by their colleagues.

Overall, people with prima donna syndrome may exhibit a range of challenging behaviors that can make it difficult to work or interact with them effectively. It is important to recognize these traits and to develop strategies for managing or mitigating their impact on others.


Helpful Strategies

Dealing with someone who has prima donna syndrome can be challenging, but here are some strategies that may be helpful:

1. Establish clear boundaries:
It is important to set clear boundaries with individuals who exhibit prima donna behavior. Establish expectations for how you will work together and communicate these expectations clearly and assertively. Be prepared to enforce consequences if the individual crosses these boundaries.

2. Stay calm and professional:
It is important to remain calm and professional when dealing with prima donnas, even if they become hostile or difficult. Avoid getting drawn into arguments or emotional reactions, as this can escalate the situation and make it harder to resolve.

3. Focus on facts and solutions:
When communicating with someone who has prima donna tendencies, try to focus on facts and solutions rather than emotions. Provide clear, objective feedback and offer suggestions for improvement or compromise.

4. Seek support:
Dealing with someone with prima donna syndrome can be stressful and challenging, so it may be helpful to seek support from colleagues, friends, or a mental health professional. Talking through your experiences and feelings with someone else can help you maintain perspective and develop effective coping strategies.

5. Consider disengaging:
In some cases, it may be necessary to disengage from an individual with prima donna syndrome if they are consistently difficult or toxic to work with. If you feel that the individual’s behavior is impacting your well-being or the well-being of others, it may be time to consider ending the relationship or seeking other professional or personal opportunities.

The behavior of individuals with this syndrome can lead to low morale, high turnover, and strained relationships with colleagues or clients. The earlier you recognize it and the sooner you address it, the stronger your organization will be.

Sometimes, business networking groups and BNI chapters find themselves with a member who displays prima donna syndrome. I recommend that you use these suggestions on how to work with them, and also how to work with people that you meet in other contexts.

One of my favorite sayings is: Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less. Well, prima donnas tend to think of themselves a lot. I share this information to help you recognize this behavior and be better equipped to interact with someone displaying these traits.

A Surprising Referral Sourcestring(28) "A Surprising Referral Source"

When it comes to effective business networking, we sometimes have to go beyond the obvious and look for new and different connections. Which leads to this question:
Can a director of a nonprofit organization be one of your best referral sources?
The answer is YES, they certainly can.

In a typical nonprofit, the board of directors is made up of many of the most influential people in the community. The people that you meet in and around a nonprofit organization also tend to have a service mindset.

The executive director of a large nonprofit typically has a huge network with many movers and shakers among their contacts in the business and philanthropic world. Remember – nonprofits need referrals, too. They depend on donations, and their donors, which are often large corporations, usually have a significant amount of business to give out. Among other services, nonprofit groups are some of the biggest purchasers of training, coaching, and consulting in the world, because they recruit a lot of nonprofessional volunteers to do their work.

Build Relationships Before Asking for Referrals

Remember, networking is about farming, not about hunting; you want to cultivate business relationships with the board of directors and members of the organization. You must build a solid foundation by giving and helping, by showing that you genuinely care about the cause and the community that the nonprofit serves.

This will assure that you avoid “premature solicitation” – asking for a sale or referral from someone who doesn’t even know who you are, or someone with whom there is no relationship. Investing your time to build solid relationships is essential for networking success in any organization.

As you build those relationships, you can also invite key members of the nonprofit organization to visit your business networking group, whether the meetings are in-person or online. Nonprofits can be very effective and very successful in established networking groups such as BNI®.

Yes, a director of a nonprofit organization can be a good and surprising referral source for a business. Getting involved with, and even serving on a nonprofit’s board of directors not only lets you contribute to your community and make deposits into your social capital account, it can also bring you opportunities to form high-value friendships and business relationships that can result in high-value referrals for you and your company.

Stop Blaming Your Networkstring(25) "Stop Blaming Your Network"

Sometimes people who have established a referral network feel unsatisfied with the referrals that they receive, and then they blame people in the network.

The truth is that if your referral network isn’t working the way you want it to, it’s your fault. When you find yourself pointing out other people’s problems, it may be time to ask if you are the reason your network isn’t delivering.

Four Common Complaints

My network is not motivated.

Maybe so, however, what are you doing to compel them to refer you to people they know? Are you interested in what they do? Or are you more concerned about how interested they are in what you do?
Ask yourself: Am I helping them in the same way I want them to help me?

They don’t know my business.

What have you done to educate them about what you do? Have you shared the latest new products or services you offer? Do you meet with members of your network outside of the regular meetings to strengthen your referral relationship?
Ask yourself: Have I given them the information they need to promote my business to others?

The referrals are fickle. They only used me once and never again.

Consider this before you decide that the referrals you receive are fickle: What have you done to turn the single sale into a regular, loyal client relationship? Do you contact each prospect in a timely manner? Do you ensure that the customer sees the best that you and your company have to offer?
Ask yourself: Do I follow up regularly and communicate in the way that they prefer?

They don’t have the contacts I need.

If you have gone through the entire database of each of your fellow networkers’ contacts and disqualified every single one, you may have underestimated your network’s contacts. Not to mention all of their contacts’ contacts. By doing this, you miss out on an exponentially growing number of possible buyers for what you are selling.
Ask yourself: Am I clear on who is the best contact for my business and am I clearly sharing that information with my referral partners?

It’s Your Obligation

It is your obligation to teach your fellow networkers how to identify referrals for you. If they are not doing so, then you are not teaching them effectively. You are responsible for many of the actions people take on your behalf.

It’s up to you to set the tone for your business, educate your referral partners, demonstrate competence and integrity, and maintain the effectiveness and strength of your referral relationships. If your referral system isn’t working, you’ve probably overlooked something.

Instead of turning over the responsibility to others and blaming them when things don’t turn out satisfactorily, work with your referral partners to prevent the same mistake from happening again. Acknowledge responsibility to anyone who has been wronged, without equivocation. Say, “It’s my fault that this happened. I apologize for the mistake, and I promise to set things right.” This straightforward acceptance of blame has the added benefit of defusing the other person’s anger. What the injured party wants to hear is acceptance of responsibility and a commitment to correcting the situation.

One of the strengths of a referral network is that everyone becomes friends. And one of the weaknesses of a referral network is that everyone becomes friends.
Only those groups and individuals who recognize the need for responsibility and accountability can make the process work for them. Those who are constantly blaming someone else for what’s going wrong, while doing nothing to change or fix it, will not do well in referral marketing.

Remember, if you’re not getting the referrals you want, it’s your responsibility to stop blaming your network and to start taking charge of your own business success.

Show Up to Get More Referralsstring(29) "Show Up to Get More Referrals"

Have you ever gotten a haircut over the phone? Probably not. It is just one of those things that you have to actually be present for to get results.

It is the same with BNI® and other business groups. People join these organizations to increase their business through referral marketing. However, you have to show up at networking meetings to get more referrals and make more money.

The Effects of Being Absent

Years ago, I did a study in BNI about absenteeism. It showed that members who had fewer absences were the members that received a whole lot more business. One chapter reduced absenteeism by more than 50%. Their membership went up 55% and their referrals went up 71%!

Conversely, the study also showed that as the number of absences doubled, the amount of closed business a member generated fell by 50%. Members who think that regularly missing meetings doesn’t really matter are greatly mistaken. The data is crystal clear. You are sabotaging your own networking efforts if you pay for a membership in an organization and you don’t go to the meetings.

Building Relationships

Intellectually, we understand that it is important to build relationships, however it may not be obvious just how critical it is. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” is absolutely true. It’s true in referral networking; it’s true in BNI with weekly chapter meetings, and it’s true with monthly business groups. For effective referral marketing, you have to participate – consistently participate.

Trust is built by meeting regularly, when your fellow networkers know they can count on seeing you every time. Being present at your chapter meeting helps you be top of mind and remembered by the other members during the time between the meetings. Attendance with the group is part of the process of building the relationship and is crucial for maintaining and strengthening your business relationships.

You cannot get a haircut over the phone. You cannot have a successful business group if you don’t show up. Absenteeism affects membership and referrals. High absenteeism results in low referrals. Low absenteeism results in high referrals.

It’s your choice. Miss meetings and lose business OR go to meetings and get more business. Remember, you have to show up to get more referrals.