With Martin G. Moore

Episode #184

Exiting Gracefully and Asking for More: Q&A with Marty and Em

Have you ever faced a situation where you were being paid to do a job, but your heart simply wasn’t in it? Even as an individual contributor it’s not a good look… but as a leader it can be almost impossible to get away with.

In this Q&A, Em and I discuss the difficulties of maintaining your leadership mojo when you aren’t aligned to your organization’s direction—and, of course, we offer some practical tips for overcoming the problem.

We also answer a great question on how to negotiate with your boss to get extra resources. This can be a daunting prospect, so in this episode, we provide deep insight into what your boss is probably thinking, and what she would have to hear in order for you to get what you need!

Generate Your Free
Personalized Leadership Development Podcast Playlist

As a leader, it’s essential to constantly develop and improve your leadership skills to stay ahead of the game.

That’s why I’ve created a 3-question quiz that’ll give you a free personalized podcast playlist tailored to where you are right now in your leadership career!

Take the 30-second quiz now to get your on-the-go playlist 👇

Take The QuizTake The Quiz


Episode #184 Exiting Gracefully and Asking for More: Q&A with Marty and Em

Have you ever faced a situation where you were being paid to do a job, but your heart simply wasn’t in it? Even as an individual contributor, it’s not a good look, but as a leader, it could be almost impossible to get away with. You know that you’re supposed to be motivating and leading your people to deliver superior performance – but if you lack the motivation to do so yourself, your people are going to be able to smell it a mile away. The first question we take on today covers what to do if you find yourself in that situation.

The second question is a little more straightforward and deals with the scenario that most of us have experienced at some point during our careers: how do you negotiate with your boss to get extra people in your team? Of course, with the Q&A format, I welcome back my partner in crime, CEO and co-founder of Your CEO Mentor, and my first born daughter, Emma Green. Hey, Em! Welcome back to the mic.

Hello, our first Q&A for 2022! I cannot believe it’s March already.

We’ve got a lot to get through today, so we better get on with the Q&A.

Let’s get into it. So the first question is from our listener, Maggie:

“I’ve been with my company for almost 20 years and I’m no longer driven by the purpose of the business. I just don’t have the passion for it anymore. It scares me to be looking for a new job after so long in the same place, but it’s what I’ve got to do. Now. The problem that I’m having is that I’ve got to effectively lead others while I’m going through this transition. I don’t believe in the mission or what we are doing, so I’m finding it incredibly hard to summon the energy to lead others and to represent the values and strategy of the business to drive others forward. How do I keep myself behaving as though I’m energised by the work, even when I’m not?” 

This is a really tough one, Marty. What do you think?

Well, Em, this is a classic case of misaligned values. Now, if you spend long enough anywhere you get to know the company, more importantly, you get to know the leaders of that company really, really well. So you’ll see areas of leadership hypocrisy, and you can many areas of under performance and low standards – especially in larger companies. It can be really easy to become disenchanted, and let’s face it: the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. You might feel as though yours is the only company that has this problem, and it can look super attractive to be somewhere else – anywhere else. So, the first thing is be aware of the frame that you are looking through.

This sounds so familiar, Marty, I’ve definitely had one or two jobs where I’ve enjoyed the work and my colleagues for the most part, but there was a big values mismatch with me and the organisation. Every time it ended the same way: with me leaving.

That’s a pretty common experience. And look, there are any number of reasons why you might become disenfranchised with your company. If you are relatively senior, you may disagree with the strategic direction of the business. Now, good story:

 A number of years ago, I realised that my position at one company was untenable because I disagreed with the CEO about the strategic settings for the business. This wouldn’t have been so much of a problem except that at the time I was actually the Head of Strategy for the company. So as it turns out, he was probably right and I was probably wrong – but still, it didn’t make the situation any less tense.

You may also become worn down simply by not being able to have the influence and impact you’d like. For many high performers, that is a key driver, that feeling of being just a small cog in a very big wheel is hard to ignore. And if you spend a long time in the company, you’ll have had ample time to see firsthand the inefficiency and wasted opportunities. Once again, this can make you feel cynical. What’s the point, right? Of course the people around you can make you feel pretty cynical too. You see poor leaders getting away with awful leadership behaviours, and you’ll definitely see people getting ahead through politics rather than performance.

The standard you walk past is the standard you set! Now, I know that you’ve had situations like this in the past, Marty. How did you handle it in real life?

In a nutshell, Em – not real well. My particular trigger point is poor leadership behaviours. Now, when I’ve seen this in the past, it’s totally driven me nuts. Watching really senior leaders who know that one of their direct reports is engaging in unhelpful, destructive or unacceptable behaviour, but doing nothing about it – they didn’t hold them to account. It’s so common because there are lots of really smart, capable, experienced executives who at their very core, just weak leaders.

We covered in Episode 182, just a couple of weeks ago, what strong leadership looks like. And there aren’t too many of those around that I’ve seen. So look, I totally get this dilemma that Maggie is facing. There have been times in the past, when I didn’t cover myself in glory, I would tend to become very vocal to my leadership team and to other colleagues, that there was a problem. So the CEO’s weak or this executive’s weak – it’s just not a good look for a start, and that always comes back to bite you. But more importantly, you are doing your people a disservice by passing on your demotivated and cynical view of the world to them – when, for all you know, they might find the behaviour of those people above you, quite normal and somehow acceptable. So this stuff is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

What you have to remember is that ultimately you are paid to get the best outcomes for the organisation, with the resources that have been entrusted to you. You don’t get the option of picking and choosing when you feel like doing that, regardless of the actual reason. You basically have to put that in the category of things that you can’t control, and work only on the things you can. You focus your people on this as well. Look, I haven’t always been good at this, but I did learn the lesson later in my career. It just took me a while to get there.

That’s awesome, Marty. So what advice do you have for Maggie to help her navigate her current situation?

I think the first thing is to think about constraints. It sounds like Maggie has already made the decision to exit her organisation. However, for those of you out there who might be facing this decision point now, this is really worth considering: no company is perfect, no job is perfect, no leader is perfect. You will work out over time what you don’t like about your situation, the things that hamper you in doing the job the way you’d ideally like to do it – these are collectively called your constraints. Now, once you know what your constraints are, you have a really simple question to answer: Can I live with this constraint or can’t I?

If the answer is yes, then put it aside. Focus on doing the things that you can to make your team performance to the best it can possibly be given the constraints you are facing. But if the answer is no, then guess what? You need to vote with your feet. I know this sounds harsh, but it actually is that simple.

Yeah. I’ve heard you talk about that a lot in our Leadership Beyond the Theory webinars. It’s amazing how often that’s the answer to what seems like a much more convoluted question. We also did a podcast episode on this not so long ago: Episode 136: Should I Stay or Should I Go? So that’s definitely worth checking out. All right, Marty. Then what?

Look, no matter what answer you come up with on the constraints, Em, for as long as you remain at the company, you need to recognise your obligation to execute on management intent. Now, unfortunately, to a large extent, that means putting aside your own feelings and asking one simple question: What’s the very best thing I can do for my team and the company right now? That should keep you focused on the right things and help you to put some purpose back in your day – even if you don’t feel too motivated by your situation. Always fall back on your duty of care as a default, that’ll keep you honest for the most part.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Any other pearls of wisdom for us?

Probably just one thing, which is more specific to Maggie’s circumstances. When I used to do a lot of road racing as a marathon runner, one of my training groups had an acronym that they’d use to get their metal approach right at the end of a race. And the acronym was FLAP, and it stands for ‘Finish Like A Pro’. There were always times in any long distance race where you go through periods of relative exhaustion and sometimes even despair, but no matter what happened during the course of the race, when you’re in that last mile, approaching the finishing line, you get it together, you lift your posture, you lengthen your stride and you get your breathing under control. When you go over that finish line, no matter how disastrous certain parts of the race were, you finish like a pro.

So, I’d offer the same advice to Maggie. You’ve had some tough times lately and you’ve decided the place is no longer for you, but you want to finish strong. On the day you finally only walk out the door, everyone needs to be saying “What a loss! We should have done more to keep Maggie.” So Maggie, FLAP.

That’s brilliant. I’m actually surprised that I’ve never heard you mention FLAP before. I think I’m going to  steal that one.

I’m really surprised you haven’t heard that either. I use that all the time, but then again, it’s a long time since I’ve run, so there you go.

That’s true. Okay, let’s get onto our second question from Carla:

 “I’m an avid listener of your podcast on my way to work and really enjoy your advice. I’d like to learn a bit more about how to effectively negotiate extra resources with my boss so that I can add more people to my team.

This could actually be a trick question. My first response – as a leader who’s been approached for resources more times than I’ve had hot breakfasts – look, it’s pretty simple. The question is: why do you want to add more people to your team? And here in lies the answer, right? Don’t think of it as how to get more people, think of it as how you can bring more value to the company. Let me just walk through this properly for a minute. The first question is: what does more mean? Is it more than you currently have? Is it more than you’ve been allocated in your budget? Is it more than you have now, but less than you used to have? I mean, all of these can be slightly different situations. So first start from a point of clarity around what more means. Your boss will respond much more favourably to a well thought out argument.

Yeah. And Marty, one of the reasons why the first module of our Leadership Beyond the Theory program is Deliver Value is because it’s the bedrock of everything you do as a leader. But it can be really tricky to define value and communicate it, especially in this situation. So I guess my question is, does asking all these questions and getting into the nitty gritty details really matter? Like if you’re under resourced is this just splitting hairs?

Well, yeah, kind of, Em. But there’s one really important thing that you need to establish in any negotiation that you have with the people above you. You want your boss to get the impression that you’ve thought things through really carefully before you’ve approached her. And guess what? You should think things through really carefully. This is one simple way to do that, and it will also give you greater clarity on what you’re asking for and how to ask.

Yeah. Okay, totally. So once you know the answer to the more question, what’s the main gist of the approach?

Well, as I said, you have to start with value. Don’t open with, “I need more people” – that’s really leading with your chin. Your bosses automatically going to be cornered and they’ll revert to scarcity mode. So she’ll be thinking things like, “Well, we don’t have any money for that”, and, “We’ve all got to do more with less” – you know, the drill, right? Instead try opening with something like this:

I’ve been thinking about how we can do things better to deliver more value for the company. I’ve come up with a couple of options, and want to explore the possibility of allocating some resources to it. Now, this may mean reassigning people and money from less value accretive projects, or it may mean we need to consider the opportunity to bring some more resources in.”

Now, in that, you’ll notice that I’ve led with the outcomes: the value to be created, rather than the inputs: more people. There have been times in my career when I’ve actually seen that adding more people makes things worse. So, we know that one woman can give birth to a baby in nine months, but it’s obviously impossible for nine women to give birth to a baby in one month. Sometimes, there are just too many cooks in the kitchen.

Nice one, Marty. A very graphic illustration of your point, but it totally makes sense. So how did you handle it when your people came to you looking for extra resources?

Well, I had a pretty open mind to being able to find ways to create additional value. Sure, we all have budgets, but they should act only as a guide. They’re normally created well in advance of the decisions that need to be made to actually do something. Don’t get me wrong – as a leader, one of your first imperatives is to make budget, and I’ve seen many otherwise good people being sacked because they couldn’t. But within your agreed parameters, there’s a huge amount of scope.

When a work activity is approved in a budget process, it seems to become a fait accompli. Resources flow towards it, people take ownership – at least to some degree. It tends not to be reexamined at the point of execution, but sometimes there could be as much as 12 months or more between an item being included on a work program, and that work actually commencing. A lot can change between those points, which is why every spending decision should be examined on its merits, regardless of what the budget says. Every leader should be asking themselves, does this still make sense at the point of actual commitment or do we need to reassess our options? Just because you are authorised to spend some money doesn’t actually mean you should.

Sure, but we need budgets to provide some kind of order to the mayhem, and to give leaders throughout the different levels of the organisation some clarity about what they, I guess, can and can’t do, right?

Oh yeah, Em, for sure. I think the point I’m making is that if you find that something isn’t going to turn out as well as your initial assessment indicated it might, then you need to call that out. Equally, if you find better ways to deploy your organization’s resources, you need to call that out too.

So true. Okay, I get that. We get a lot of discussion around this in Leadership Beyond the Theory, because as I mentioned earlier, being able to articulate value and you know, how to spend the money can be tricky if it’s a new concept to you or your boss. So is there anything else that you wanted to add?

Oh yeah – I haven’t hit the punchline yet! Wait for this. There are two critical questions that I would always ask my people – let’s say we’d manage to establish there were superior value you to be derived from investing in a potential piece of work. Next I’d move on to these questions to work out if additional resources were indeed appropriate – because let’s face it, sometimes it’s worth investing extra people or money to get a better overall result. So the first question is:

Can you put your hand on your heart and tell me that all of people are working on high value projects and not spinning their wheels on marginal stuff that adds little value?

Now, if the answer to that is yes, then there’s a potential case for additional people. But very often the first, and best method for getting additional resources – which is reassigning people from lower value to high value work – hasn’t even been considered. It’s almost like they’re saying “We’re all really busy, so we need more people”, that doesn’t cut it, right? We all know busy has never been a good measure of value delivery, right.

And then the second question:

Can you put your hand on your heart and tell me that all of your people are performing to an acceptable standard and that you aren’t carrying any passengers? 

The reason that this is important is that there’s no way I was going to add resources when the people that were there already, weren’t performing to capacity.

So good, Marty – and some very, very useful questions there. It’ll be worth having the answers to those questions in the back of your mind if you are going to ask your boss for more people and more resources, right?

Oh, absolutely Em, and here’s the interesting thing – as I started asking these two powerful questions, which I probably did only in the latter part of my executive career, I would send people away to think through the answers and come back to me. Do you know that in probably 90% of cases, I would never see that person again?

Well, sorry, I’d see them again, of course, but just not in the context of them coming back to me with the right answers for being given more people. They would realise for themselves that there were other ways to get the job done and that I wasn’t going to be an enabler for lazy leaders who weren’t doing the fundamentals of their job.

Yeah. Well, I guess it might sound a bit harsh, but you have to think about it as if it was your own money. And of course, we’ve got thousands upon thousands of business owners in our leadership community and for them, it is their own money.

For sure. And for any leader, you need to be a good steward of your company’s resources first and foremost.

Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks Marty. A couple of very meaty questions and answers there. Do you want to wrap it up?

Thanks, Em. Alright, that brings us to the end of Episode 184. Thanks so much for joining us, and remember: at Your CEO Mentor, our purpose is to improve the quality of leaders globally.


  • Ep. #182: What is Strong Leadership – Listen Here

  • Ep. #136: Should I Stay, or Should I go? – Listen Here

  • Join the Crush Your Career Challenge 2022 – Here


  • Explore other podcast episodes – Here

  • Take our FREE Level Up Leadership Masterclass – Start Now

  • Leadership Beyond the Theory – Learn More


Here’s how you can make a difference:

  • Subscribe to the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast

  • Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts

  • Repost this episode to your social media

  • Share your favourite episodes with your leadership network

  • Tag us in your next post and use the hashtag #nobsleadership