Can you climb the mountain again and again?


In football they call it the difficult third year. Despite your success in the first two years you get the sack in the third year. It’s as if everyone had given all they had and now you can’t get any more from them. You weren’t able  to build on your success. 

I have heard the same speech from a team manager to their front line staff and from a chief executive to there senior management team. “Last year was a good year, you are all to be congratulated on our success , well done every one. Now forget last year. We must work even harder this year, there is no room for complacency or resting on our past achievements. I expect even more from you this year. I know you won’t let me down”

If it was meant to be a celebration of success it fell flat. If it was intended to inspire it deflated. The feeling in the room was this person is never satisfied and no matter how hard I work they will always want and expect more. I don’t know if I can or even if I want to. 

The challenge is so often seen as rescuing a failing service/organisation, improving performance, reestablishing pride and confidence, getting out of special measures that we ignore the very real challenge of how do you build on success. When people made a super human effort to turn things round, when they plowed every last ounce of energy,  enthusiasm and strength into getting across the line how do you persuade them to run the race again but faster. Put another way they have just run the fastest 100 meters of their life now you tell them the future is not a sprint but a marathon.

This is when some  chief executives (or team managers ) decide to move on safe in the knowledge their reputation is made. The turnover of chief executives isn’t just to do with the demands of the post its to do with the link between short- termism
and ambition.


Blair Mcpherson former director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk

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