Many Caucasian People And Hands Holding Red Straight Letters Or Characters Building The Isolated English Word Superstar On White Background“Associative thinking” may seem like a more academic than functional term for the workplace. A leadership expert at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University said, however, that it is one of the key tools an executive can use to help high performing employees excel.

Carter Cast, a clinical associate professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School, asserts that this and other tips can help propel “superstar” employees to new heights. An October posting on the school’s Kellogg Insight blog written by Kellogg Insight business editor Fred Schmalz elaborates on his concepts.

As the Kellog Insight posting explains, associative thinking is the ability to make connections between ideas that don’t seem to go together at first glance. The argument that Cast forwards, however, is that employees who can master this practice will be much more creative and innovative.

Cast, a former CEO of, said that he would try to bring this to the forefront at Monday morning senior leadership meetings, during the first 20 minutes. Over this time period, he’d ask these employees what they saw over the weekend that struck them as interesting.

The employees, according to the posting, would discuss everything from clothes to devices, articles and advertisements, and more – anything that piqued their interests. New trends, objects or experiences were all fair game.

Once they shared these things, Cast had his employees describe how the things that piqued their interests could bring some positive affects to the company.

Cast said it is also important to urge high-performance employees to grow awareness. Motivation is also key, as is follow-through – the idea of making sure you can give employees what you promise them.

To read the full Kellog Insight blog posting, click here.