Winning with Leadership’s Greatest Danger
Success destroys leaders by encouraging them to repeat the past.
Leadership is always about the future.
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:
- Examine success with the same rigor you examine failure.
- Thank everyone, including the parking lot attendant and the clerk in the grocery store.
- 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.
- Work harder. Success isn’t an excuse to ease up. Drifting is deadly, in a changing world.
- Never assume that repeating the past creates the future.
- Don’t define yourself by success. Fear and insecurity set in, when success owns you.
- 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?
I agree with you. Trouble is we never learn from succcess. We drink, and apart from swollen tongues, we grow swollen heads!
Thanks Rajiv. There’s something poignant about the phrase, “swollen heads.” 🙂
One of your best blogs to date!
I learned a lot in just a few minutes by reading this post. Thank you!
Thanks Gabrielle. It’s a pleasure to be useful.
Well our country is 17 Trillion dollars in debt. 80% of employees hate their jobs. 97% of the money is controlled by 3% of the people. Kid across the works will starve and dehydrate and die needlessly because medicine that could save their lives won’t reach them.
Kinda hard to see Dan the success here we can repeat to reproduce these stellar results.
(edited by blog owner)
We got huge problems and each huge problem brings with it its huge solution.
Until these problems are addressed head on, they repeat.
Just think instead of in the comfort of where you are reading thus you were in some desolate place, hungry and thirsty.
The people who COULD help just decided talking about how great things are and slapping themselves on their backs seemed like the cool thing to do today.
As your stomach ached and your parched tongue swelled, how would you feel about Gods other kids who did not find a way to help you?
One day we are all going to answer for our sins of omission.
There is a very strong magnet just beneath the surface of success, it always pulls us in the direction of what we have accomplished, believing if we just do that same set of things again, we’ll be successful again, and who doesn’t love that!– worse still there are folks (or groups) who template “methods” that (they say guarantee) results.
I’m in the camp of developing your creativity muscle, explore new paths and even ((shock face)) detach from the magnet.. however expect an uphill climb, because many around you will not understand this.. I find thinking in terms of competency sets helps, as well as advisers positioned as sounding-boards to refine direction and challenge assumption.A real good “trial and error” muscle doesn’t hurt either 🙂
One last thing, understanding whats fatal is vitally important — sizing the risk — the reset is to thrive, not to die.
The Round Wheels of Today become the Square Wheels of Tomorrow. After skidding the wagon forward for so long, putting on that Square Wheel sure seemed like a good idea. Then. we actually implemented a round one. That should fix us forever, but it won’t because the future is jet cargo planes and overnight deliveries, along with desktop 3D printing.
“We DID continuous improvement” is not the end of things, since life requires CONTINUOUS continuous improvement. It is a jungle out there and the animals are still evolving…
On the other hand, we really need to celebrate all the successes we have had in order to develop a culture that desires to continually implement change and improvement. Often, in our journey forward, we forget that intrinsic motivation generated by small improvements is what drives the teamwork and the search for new ideas.
And like Ken says, there will be those uphill climbs, and probably some heavy mud. That which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
Lastly, simply remember that the View from the Front is a LOT different than the View from the Back. Share The View!
And have fun out there. Good stuff, Dan, as usual. And you are not one to rest on things already achieved. What’s Next? (How about some ideas on “free time” that does not really exist for so many workers?)
Well said and so true.
So true — if we aren’t sharing the vision and the View from the Front AND celebrating all the successes, being grateful for everyone’s contribution, we are wasting wonderful, positive, dynamic energy that can help all of us grow.
You said as much in a short blog as Kotter did in an entire book on change. Thank you.
The premise of not resting on laurels, but saying “thanks” and presenting new challenges is vital to avoid complacency.
We find comfort in systems and fixed processes, because they provide a common language for reporting and for operating in large groups. Managers learn to excel at organizing activities, planning, and monitoring. Unfortunately, many fixed processes, meetings, and other means of coordination also favor social loafing and demotivate people with personal drive.
The trick in managing large groups is to infect them with the “common purpose” virus, so purpose drives system and performance, rather than vice versa. Like a virus, the organization will adapt and change to survive and thrive. The role of the leader is to provide maximum exposure to the “common purpose” virus.
#2 is my favorite. Servant leadership.
Always remember that its the little people that makes one a success . Humility makes one a better person. Success is all in the head. To be successful is to always be on the move and improving the view every time with all those who help you achieve it. Enjoy it and share that view!
Where is that picture taken? That’s my idea of rock climbing 🙂 !
Dan, great blog. I quoted you: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140603142605-26310100-use-a-different-lens-healthcare?trk=prof-post
Thank you for this, it put closure onto an issue that had been nagging at me for a bit of time. Exactly what I needed to read at the moment I needed to read it!
Great post, Dan
Love the part regarding success reveals, failure changes
Haven’t read your blog yet!…you got me with the photo!… NO WAY!…could I make it up if that was my only way…a little frightening to think about!
This is a daily dose for me , I use your post as multivitamins , it keeps me energized 24×7 .
Thanks for keeping me healthy.