4 ways to unleash the full power of unicorn employees

Do you imagine in unicorns? I do. It’s exhausting not to after I see them at work on a regular basis. 

Though they could not carry a multi-billion greenback valuation like the corporations and startups we sometimes think about “unicorns,” these people contribute to their organizations in ways you possibly can’t put a price ticket on. Workplace “unicorns” are standout employees who proactively contribute to organizational enchancment. When there’s an issue, they create options to managers, soar at the alternative to assist with initiatives and provide you with concepts to higher the firm.  

Like the legendary creature, workplace unicorns are additionally uncommon. So when managers spot a unicorn, they want to acknowledge the worker’s potential as an impactful contributor and actively spend money on their growth. Let’s put it this fashion—in case you don’t wrangle your unicorns, they could return to the wild, i.e., to one of your rivals. 


I’ve had the privilege of nurturing many workplace unicorns at my workflow platform firm, Catalytic. With planning, you possibly can develop unicorns into leaders and specialists that drive creativity and innovation to your group. Listed below are few rules I’ve adopted in my time growing workplace unicorns:

Don’t restrict a unicorn’s creativity

Given unicorns’ knack for going above and past at work, their inventive considering ought to be inspired, not discouraged—even when it comes to long-standing organizational processes. Unicorns don’t function effectively in an “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it” tradition. They need to know that new concepts are at all times welcome in the event that they profit the enterprise.

This situation lately performed out on my staff. Three unicorns recognized that we would have liked to get higher at following up on gross sales leads from commerce reveals. The group turned an concept right into a actuality by constructing an improved operational workflow for this course of on our no-code platform, making it a everlasting resolution that our whole gross sales staff now follows. 

Encourage unicorns to construct their very own model

Construct up your unicorns as thought leaders and position fashions for the whole staff to observe. This gives a two-fold resolution—it allows unicorns to develop management expertise at your organization and might encourage different potential unicorns to observe of their footsteps. With out alternatives to construct their very own model, unicorns could not really feel like they will develop as leaders and consultants in your group. 

Give unicorns inner and exterior alternatives to create their very own model amongst colleagues and together with your clients. One of the simplest brand-building workout routines I’ve used for staff unicorns is having them current with a consumer at an occasion. 

Present unicorns their profession path

In my expertise, unicorns desire a clear profession development path. You want to have common conversations with unicorns about organizational development alternatives, chart a common timeline for promotion and description the steps they will take to attain the subsequent stage. In the event you can’t present this framework for unicorns, there’s one other firm ready that completely can.


Meet unicorns’ expectations by making them a precedence. Constantly have interaction unicorns about what they need to be after they “develop up” in your organization. This consideration to element can preserve unicorns acting at a excessive stage and set them up for long-term success at your group. 

Spend money on a unicorn’s skilled growth

Unicorns anticipate you to actively spend money on their skilled growth. These people have private {and professional} targets they need to obtain. And with the proper steerage, unicorns can accomplish these targets at your organization. Nevertheless, in case you can’t present unicorns assets to assist them develop, they could really feel like their skilled growth is caught in impartial. 

Proactively join unicorns to studying and growth alternatives, whether or not they’re inner or exterior. If unicorns need to grasp a talent your group doesn’t have, set them up to study it. On my staff, as an illustration, we had a number of unicorns turn into “citizen developers”— employees who create new enterprise purposes utilizing low-code and automation instruments sanctioned by IT. With their new abilities, this group of unicorns developed progressive processes that at the moment are important to our gross sales operations, together with a brand new workflow that mechanically pulls Salesforce knowledge to populate presentation decks for quarterly gross sales evaluation conferences. 

So, do you imagine in unicorns now? You must. By fostering unicorns’ development, you possibly can develop the innovators and sport changers who will take your group to the subsequent stage. 

Jamie Delgado is vice chairman of gross sales for (*4*), a workflow automation platform.