Winning with Leadership’s Greatest Danger

Success destroys leaders by encouraging them to repeat the past.

Leadership is always about the future.

dangerous stairs


Repeating the past prevents you from building on it.

Success confirms and solidifies, then it destroys.

Someone says, “Let’s do that again,” and everyone nods in vigorous agreement. You wrongly believe repeating the past will produce more success. But, in a changing world, repeating the past makes you irrelevant.

The danger of success is repetition. But, the opportunity of failure is transformation.

Repetition may result in incremental success. But, exponential success demands new, often uncomfortable, ways of thinking about organizations, processes, and yourself.

Exponential success means transferring power and authority to others – expanding and trusting the team, for example.

Successful leaders, who won’t let go, end up failures.


Success reveals hearts. Failure changes us. Success makes us more of who we already are.

Success tests the fiber of our souls.

Success reveals the true nature of relationships. Colleagues may be filled with envy and resentment. Some have secret desires to tear you down or prevent you from getting “too” cocky.

7 ways to succeed at succeeding:

  1. Examine success with the same rigor you examine failure.
  2. Thank everyone, including the parking lot attendant and the clerk in the grocery store.
  3. Focus on how far you have to go, not how far you’ve come. We’ve all seen leaders who repeat “glory-day” stories. Looking back at success puffs up. Looking forward at challenge humbles.
  4. Work harder. Success isn’t an excuse to ease up. Drifting is deadly, in a changing world.
  5. Never assume that repeating the past creates the future.
  6. Don’t define yourself by success. Fear and insecurity set in, when success owns you.
  7. Visit those more successful than you.

Bonus: Listen more. Success makes you think you’re right.

What are the dangers of success?

How can leaders prepare for and navigate success?