Rare is the leader who doesn’t experience some discomfort trying to sustain peak performance. Pressure at work is constantly on the rise. The certainties of the past have gone. Demands are relentlessly increasing, with ever tighter deadlines from external and internal stakeholders.

Leaders need to juggle between ‘having to produce results’ (peak performance) and ‘protecting self and team members’ (people sustainability). Very often this ‘balancing act’ is accompanied with an inch of frustration. Sometimes felt through internal doubts, often voiced with external complaints. In consequence, leaders’ responses vary. Some take all on themselves, others make lives miserable for their team.  We’ve seen both approaches work – in the short term.

But is there a way leaders can combine ‘no compromise on the ambitions’, with ‘no burning self or team members’? In our experience of helping executives and teams reach sustainable peak performance, there is a high road. It entails making sure to ‘ask’ and ‘give’ enough. With regards to self and others.

Yet a lot is happening, invisibly but building up. When 2 members of a leadership team don’t like, trust, value or accept each other, it doesn’t go away but grows persistently, and it brings a huge cost:

  1. Ask big from self
    Most of us work hard to attain expected results. But true peak performance is different. It’s not (necessarily) working harder, but aiming higher. It’s going beyond what others expect from us, not in workload but in ambitions. It’s ‘redefining the extra mile’ from distance to altitude.

    DARE TO DREAM. Define what it is that you would love to create if anything were possible. Something that inspires you. That makes you want to rise up to the challenge. That provides you with new levels of energy. And go for it.

  2. Ask big from others
    Question: who are the leaders people remember with most fondness? Answer: the ones who were human AND demanding. The ones who pushed team members to go beyond what they thought they were capable of doing. The ones who helped them expand their own boundaries and reach new heights.

    DARE TO ASK. Be demanding. Ask the outrageous from your team members. Ask the unexpected from your boss. Ask the impossible from your colleagues. Ask more to whomever. Ask those things that will make a step change in the results you want to create. There’s no problem in asking. Ask often: you’ll get more yesses than no’s. Ask big: you’ll get more interest than skepticism.
  3. Give big to self
    Research shows it again and again: when people are stressed, negative, tired, frustrated – great ideas have a hard time coming. Effectiveness is plummeting: the ‘ask big from self’ doesn’t work. Relationships are suffering: the ‘ask big from others’ doesn’t work either. To get to peak performance, make sure you get sufficiently resourced.

    DARE TO TAKE CARE OF SELF. Identify those things that provide you with radiating and contagious energy. Those (small or larger) investments in self that have a big ROI. Find out what works for you, and how much you need of it to ‘function optimally’. Then give it massively to yourself.
  4. Give big to others
    Remember when you were at your best; how supportive and trustful was your manager? Right. Now turn the table, and provide that support and care to your managers and team members. Give them big if you want them to give big back to you. 

    DARE TO CARE. Assess who needs your help, and then provide that listening ear, that reassuring word, that piece of advice, or that piece of content where you have such value add. By connecting with them, and by helping them thrive, you’ll benefit as well.


And now face yourself honestly:

  • How outrageous do you dare to be in your ambitions?
  • How outrageous do you dare to be in your demands to others?
  • How outrageous do you dare to be in giving to self
  • How outrageous do you dare to be in serving others?

Wherever you score low, give yourself the gift of acting now.

So let’s summarize: sustainable peak performance is not about ‘work load management’, but about asking & giving: ask big(ger) from self, ask big(ger) from others, give big(ger) to self, give big(ger) to others. Act now.


Contact us if you want more info.