The Top Nine Causes of The Plateau Pattern™: Martyr Behavior


Cynthia, Jim, and Tim are the executives and equal owners of a successful midsized company.  Recently each owner seems distracted.  Cynthia is spending more and more time on her nonprofit boards and speeches for associations.  She is talking about writing a book to provide advice for younger women business owners. Tim is starting another business and has another partner in mind. And Jim spends more time working from home and watches the kids while his wife is at work.  All three feel like they are overdue for a break and are entitled to collect some return on their long term investment of money and long hours.

The risks associated with this vignette are pretty easy to see.  The company may be leaderless for too long.  Subordinates may or may not step up to fill the void.  Resentments might develop.  Competitors might take advantage of the fact that these business owners are coasting and have let their guard down. Star employees could be cherry picked while Cynthia mentors, Tim diversifies, and Jim babysits.

What do you think?  Is the company positioned for growth? A plateau? Freefall?

Although a vignette cannot possibly convey the whole story, there IS enough information here to prompt some relevant questions.

My guess is that this business hasn’t been as successful as things may have seemed for quite a while.  Why do all three owners now feel like they deserve a significant break…almost a group sabbatical?  Why do the three owners feel that they are due more ROI now?  Haven’t they been receiving reasonable salaries and appropriate profit sharing?  Why do all 3 owners seem to need more ROI and a break at the same time?  As equal owners, have they been forcing equal pay and equal treatment on one another?  Could they have delegated or asked for more help sooner?   Did they take care of everyone BUT themselves too long?

The business is positioned for freefall if the leadership void is not addressed. Ironically, this business could actually be well positioned for growth if someone else recognizes the opportunity and buys the company.  Cynthia, Tim, and Jim have lost interest in running this business and want/need money. The timing could be right for an acquisition. The company could do well if subordinates of the owners are ready to take over the leadership reigns.  Ownership can even be transferred to key employees over time.  Maybe Cynthia could mentor one of her own employees to become a woman business owner without having to leave the company.

The 6th top cause of The Plateau Pattern™ is “martyr behavior.

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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