Three Tips to Manage Difficult but Valuable EmployeesMany employees who are difficult can be exceptional contributors. Do you think Steve Jobs or Bill Gates would be easy to manage?

All successful leaders learn how to shift their management style to work effectively with different types of people. Personalities are unique and there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.

Jeff Stibel, contributor to Harvard Business Review, wrote an article on how to manage your smartest, strangest employee. In it he provides three tips to try on employees who are difficult, but valuable.

Balance Cohesion and Creativity

Consider the project when you delegate responsibilities. For instance, give your best people something substantive and challenge them. This will use their skills and bring out their best.

However, if the employee affects the culture in a negative way, weigh the cost of keeping them around.

Limitations May Be the Same Source of Talents

An employee’s limitations might be the source of their talent. Stibel offers an example where an employee of his felt he needed to “own” a project completely.

“Once I identified his work style as a variant of entrepreneurship as opposed to a difficult employee, his productivity soared and the company benefited,” says Stible.

He suggests you give such an employee a separate project or assignment to run with in order to leverage their talent and not crush it.

Move Things Forward

Offer creative individuals enough independence to be innovative, but also move the project forward with individuals who can act.

Stibel says to organize your teams in such a way to foster innovation across them with multiple skillsets. “A company needs dialogue, but once a decision is made, a team must move forward together,” he adds.

The brightest minds can be your company’s biggest headache. Try to be a leader of people, not a manager of projects. Leaders must learn to rely on their team members to deliver results. They also need to move beyond Leadership 101, apply their knowledge and skills strategically, and make the most of their team members’ valuable qualities and skills.

Have you had a difficult but talented employee? How did you manage them?