The interesting case of an OVER performing team

Some days, it is magic! You can imagine my surprise when I was sent the following conundrum by email this afternoon, by someone who is supposedly a Leadership mentor and yet needed to ask for advice in dealing with it! It seems one of his contacts (a specialist in organisational culture no less) had asked him for help with a relatively rare leadership issue – I quote in full to make sure that no-one is in any doubt about the nature of the problem….

Dear (name removed to protect the ‘guru’)

We (I) lead a group of field based service culture consultants. Over the past 5 years, we’ve been through a tremendous amount of change in supported programs and phases of implementation vs support roles. Through it all, we’ve been a bit of an experiment for the company, so we’ve been in “hyper-drive” to develop our people to deliver at aspirational levels to “prove our worth”. As you can imagine, this type of continual Q1 focus takes its toll on all, and burn out sets in. I own the responsibility for creating this environment.

Moreover, we are at a point now in which there is no longer a need for “hyper-drive” leadership – things are running well and I believe that we can slow down to maintain successes and engage a realistic continual improvement plan. But here’s the rub – I can’t get my down-line leadership team to slow down! I have been deliberately watching my words and actions to set a more even-keel environment, but they are all very committed and can’t seem to break the 5 year habit. Throw a reorg on top of it all and well… you get the picture.

So, can you provide any insight/stories about how I, as the leader, can model and support a change in our situational leadership mode, as well as anything that might be insightful to share with them to help realize that there can be a work-life balance when you understand priorities and see where we are in the big picture?

Thanks for your guidance!

So that’s the problem. Perhaps you’d like to spend a nanosecond thinking through YOUR response?

OK, that will do! Here’s mine…

Nice to have an easy one for once…

Simple, but attention to detail is important.

Firstly, though, I need some basic information… Key to this is what your CURRENT profit is? I’m happy to accept answers in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling, or Euros.

Next, I’d like to know what level of profit you would be happy to achieve if the team could be encouraged to slow down. Ideally, in the same currency, but if you really need to quote in a different one, I can cope.

Now, I’d like you to do the arithmetic and calculate the difference. I realise that there are two different ways to get the same answer, either will do.

Got an answer? Great. Now, I’m glad that you have top/core team agreement to this need, as it is vital to the success of the next step…

I’d like you to speak to the CFO, and ask him (it is generally better to ask, rather than write, and if there are subsequent conversations, choose a different place for each one)…

To transfer the figure that you came up with – the difference between the two profits – (Hey! I heard that one too… but the answer is a bit too spiritual for this forum.) – to the private bank account in Switzerland that I’m going to send you by private message.

OK? Great. Now the joy of this solution, is that YOU don’t have to do ANYTHING with your team – they are just fine – they can carry on as if NOTHING changed. No fancy consultancy programmes, no clever acronyms, no boxer shorts printed with “go slower” slogans. Just plain and simple.

Told you it was easy!

PS For anyone with the opposite problem – a team that need to produce more, yesterday – give me a call or email – my website is!

Best wishes

Working behind the scenes, helping leaders achieve things they never dreamt they could
t 07785 222380 |


  1. "by someone who is supposedly a Leadership mentor and yet needed to ask for advice in dealing with it!"

    Graham, your sarcasm is wasted. As is your exclamation mark. I don't claim to be a mentor, And you don't have to hide my name as I have no claim to be a guru.

    I run a 'Wisdom of Crowds'-style website that brings together people who have opinions on leadership. Together, the group is smarter than any one of them/us alone.

    I'm a facilitator who provides a space for a range of inputs on leadership, some better than others, most delivered with a spirit of generosity. One or two arrive laden with sarcasm and aren't particularly helpful.

    I constantly ask the group questions. That's how you get the best answers. Phil Dourado

  2. Thanks for your comment, Phil.

    I'm sorry that you took exception to my accolade, I was basing it on your own description of yourself…

    "Phil has become one of the UK’s leading analysts and commentators on putting the customer at the heart of business, and uses his insights to help organizations improve their customer focus and get closer to their customers.

    His expertise in this area comes from over a decade spent helping to define how organizations can become more customer-centred, through writing, editing and working in the fields of marketing, customer relations, customer service and the emerging field known as the ‘customer experience’."

    I apologise: I had not appreciated the altrusitic nature of your hub. I mistakenly thought it was a way of gathering input to be packaged and sold to your corporate clients.

    Best wishes, Graham.

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