There are many differences between a Divo (or a Diva) and a Rock Star. A Divo is a talented creative who feels entitled to get special treatment and usually gets it. A Rock Star is a talented creative who is part of the team and wants to be.

The Divo thinks the only way he can get what he wants is to demand it and use his talent as a negotiating tool. A Rock Star knows the way to get what she wants is to create a compelling justification for it and leaves her talent out of it.

A Divo will exclude people if he deems them to be uncool. A Rock Star will embrace people for who they are.

So how do you empower a super talented creative to shine while guiding him away from entitlement? You define the diplomatic path to taking on more responsibility and share tools to help you guide the creative to move forward gracefully.

The Diplomatic Path

  • Role model the behavior and attitude you're looking for. Just like in parenting, it starts with you.
  • Teach him about the responsibility that comes with talent. It's a gift to be valued and appreciated. He must nurture his talent by ensuring there is a healthy stream of creative input, not just output.
  • Nurture his creativity. Allow for down time to watch a TEDtalk, or play foozeball or go on Facebook. (but, of course, in the same way you are comfortable with others taking advantage of these opportunities) .
  • Assign an up-level partner with whom to work on a project, such as a senior writer. This partnership requires the talent-in-the-rough to reach up and also show respect for the senior person. It's easier to show respect for someone who has more experience; then this respect becomes an ingrained attitude and translates easily to every level.
  • Give the benefit of the doubt. Let him be. Sometimes signs of potential divo-ness are just fear and once he is doing the work, the fear dissipates and the divo-ness goes with it.
  • Take action at the first sign of divoland. It's possible to guide an entitled bossy pants away from that behavior, but that takes time and effort and it's much smarter to start earlier in their career.
  • Acknowledge efforts being made. For every critical feedback, make sure there are multiple positive comments. Positive reinforcement goes much farther than negative threats.
  • Hold everyone on the team to the same standard. Regardless of talent level, role or seniority.

  • Tools To Use
    • This chart is an illustration of the differences in attitude and action between a Divo and a Rock Star. It's a good reference for people who prefer specific examples over concepts. Just reading through and thinking about it can be humbling to someone young, eager and on the cusp of Divoland and Rock Stardom. It can be taken home and read in private or discussed together, whatever way works best for you and your associate. It's also a good HR tool in that it is so specific it can be used for counseling someone to make immediate and sustained adjustments.
      Guiding Potential Divos to Rock Stardom
    • Share the idea of "Fake it 'til you make it" with your associate; this means "pretend you're feeling (insert quality) even if you're not.'"--it's like smiling; a fake smile almost always leads to a real one rather quickly.
    • Deliver funny, upbeat communications, such as "That was a million dollar meeting" with a hundred thousand dollar signs.
    • Highlight how others perceive them, positive and negative. It can be motivating, as people want to be perceived as kind, even if they don't say it.

    • It's human nature to assess an environment and then do what seems necessary to succeed. The more examples of kindness, collegiality and gratitude around us, the more we will follow suit. Now go get those bees with honey!

      Are you measuring your team's performance? Check out Cella's PartnerPulse!

      Seats are still available for the Fall CreativeExecs Roundtables in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Dallas. See details at

      Cella Consultant Rena DeLevie's nickname is "COO of the Creative Process." She has 25 years in the creative industry; first as an art director for 8 years, then in Creative Operations for the past 17 years. Rena has, and continues to, provide business coaching and mentoring services throughout her career and has successfully taught creative executives how to partner within and across departments. She works with clients to define specific and actionable steps towards their goals and ensures they're in alignment with the Company mission. Her passion is to help companies and people succeed by listening, analyzing and proposing solutions. She values creativity and business equally.