Q: I've just started as MD of a medium-sized food supplier. The senior sales team are prima donnas and dominate the other teams. They are highly rewarded but disruptive to production and finance. How do I get them to sing from the same hymn sheet and pull together? Is the time up for celebrity sales teams?

A: Top people are not always the easiest people to manage. How you manage your high fliers is a measure of your excellence as a leader in your business. While I would never accept anyone should be a celebrity in your business, the fact is your customers are the source of your whole income and you cannot overstate the importance of this relationship. I promise you the MD with a lacklustre sales team would envy your problem.

I wonder if the real problem here is that you are feeling apprehensive in managing this group.

This is a very good moment to get a lot closer to your team and I do hope you are close to your customers, not just through the sales team. It's like having a George Best in your team, a fab player, no doubt disruptive, but no-one would describe having him in their team as a hardship. Ensure you and your teams know who is holding the reins and understand the direction of the company but with a light touch so as not to cramp their success.

Q: Recently my PA has insisted on being "more than a PA". She has always sent out emails on my behalf but has started to send them out under her name, asking fellow directors for information, and has made an increasing number of decisions that should have been referred to me. This came to a head in a board meeting where she started to argue with the FD. This has generated ill will. Can I remedy this situation?

A: It's not all bad. First of all it's a good sign you have a PA who seems to be passionate about your business and is confident enough to be proactive.

Clearly she is overstepping the mark and you need to provide her with feedback. Don't make this a big deal, but do make sure you are frequently having discussions with her, since it would appear that she is sufficiently thick-skinned not to notice the discomfort of your directors.

How is she performing in other parts of her role? Is this her first position as a PA, has she had any training? There are some excellent training courses that bring an incredible amount of added value. You may also find out a little more about her career aspirations. Is this role a stepping stone for a more executive position? You will both gain by listening to each other.n

If you have a question for Sue, email her at sue@mountstevensexecutivecoaching.com.