Three Ways to Protect Success
Letting down destroys you.
Maintaining and sustaining success is harder than achieving it.
Humility is your companion on the way up. Arrogance trips you at the top.
Three ways to protect success:
#1. Stay connected:
Not everyone is excited about your success. Some feel threatened. Others want to protect their turf by dropping you down a notch or two.
Now that you’re doing well, relationships with “power people” are even more important.
- How are you building relationships with allies on the board?
- How do the “Chiefs” view you? Does the Chief Executive Officer view you as an ally or threat?
- What are you doing to help colleagues be successful?
- How are employees standing on your shoulders, rather than you standing on theirs?
#2. Stay dumb:
It’s easy to feel smarter than others when things are going well.
Smart leaders don’t need to listen or collaborate.
- Force yourself to doubt yourself. The secret to healthy-dumb is confidence tempered with uncertainty. If you don’t feel uncertain, fake it.
- Stay curious even when you’re not. Say, “What other options are available?”
- Encourage dissent. Ask the entire team, “What might be wrong with our plans?”
- Say, “I could be wrong.” It’s easy to say, “I could be wrong,” when you feel you might be. It matters more when you feel you aren’t.
- Say thank-you when people make “dumb” suggestions.
#3. Stay humble:
It’s easy to feel “better than” when things are going well.
On your way up you worked on yourself. Now you work on others. They need to grow, you don’t.
Serving took you to the summit, but, now, your hands are clean.
- Practice humility, even if you don’t feel it. Fill a glass. Grab a broom.
- Confess your feelings of pride to trusted advisers.
- Stay connected and dumb.
Isn’t it disingenuous to act humbly when you don’t feel humble? No.
How can leaders protect success?
Note: This post is inspired by a conversation with a coaching client.
Can you elaborate on the final “stay connected and dumb”? I feel there is something important or interesting there and would love to hear a bit more on it.
Yes, please expand. I like this post, Dan, and I agree. We must remain humble; we must be kind; however, I confess I will not ‘play small’ for anyone. Thank you, have an abundant day.
I understand ‘dumb’ in this context to be in relation to certainty rather than intelligence. I think Dan is cautioning leaders to avoid rigidity or certainty- in favor of a posture of open investigation, exploration and curiosity- one thst engages the input, persoectives and judgement of others-
I think in stay connected and dumb, Dan is saying avoid being alienated from your team and avoid certainty.
Dan, please chime in if I got that wrong
Thanks Lori. That’s where I was going with this. Playing with the term “dumb” was a way to bring together uncertainty as it relates to knowledge. 🙂
Isolation express arrogance. One way to stay humble is to stay connected.That includes listening and caring for people. It’s pretty hard to serve people from a distance.
Dumb, as in open to learn from others or not knowing.
Connecting is easier when everyone is STILL learning and growing, especially the leader. We connect over our vulnerabilities (dumbness).
Glad you are mulling these ideas over. Best for the journey.
On your tip, “Staying dumb”….I think that if you are a leader, you don’t know everything. It is okay to admit that to your team. It also helps to ask for their ideas and input on issues and ways of doing things. They may have ideas to make the job more efficient that you may not have thought of.
Thanks Possible. When we admit we don’t know, we give permission for others to know.
Thank you for posting this. We are having a successful year, some days it feels like we can see for miles. Success does have its own issues. I read an article about performing autopsies on success which was helpful.
Staying connecting – sometimes when things are well we can begin to believe that we can go alone. Sports teams can get in trouble when they change the game plan after obtaining a lead. The connections that allowed you to experience success need to be kept and nurtured. There is always more to do, ways to make it better.
Staying dumb – When decisions are going well, when the train gets moving in the right direction, we can begin making decisions without collaborating, its quicker and the direction has been working, right? Followers that had skin in the game begin to loose interest, their talents and strengths are not being used.
Changing the game plan solely based on success brings danger.
Thanks Scott. I value your insights and experience. I feel the tendency to stop asking for input when things are going well. But, I think seeking input is more important when things are going well. Love the buy-in connection!
This seems like good advice for any day, not merely when one is already successful.
Thanks Steven… I’ll have to rethink the title. 🙂
This Is The Only Time..Stereotyping Comes In Handy..Sometimes..A Smile..Is Jus..A Smile…Thanx 4 The Read..I Alwayz Enjoy Your Mentoring…smj/14
Being “Blonde” That Is…smj/14
Have you read the Progress Principle (2011) by Harvard professor Teresa Amabile together with Steven Kramer?
Thanks marcisegal. I haven’t read the progress principle. Sounds like a I should.
Yes, my cluents apprecite implementing the recommedations. Also, Amabile is one of my favorite creativity researchers of all time.
I think one thing to do is embrace the position that I am not diminished by other’s success – to maintain success and growth means others need to be allowed to excel
Thanks Billgncs. “I’m not diminished by the success of others”… powerful!
“Does the Chief Executive Officer view you as an ally or threat?”
Wrong question. For many of us leading at a lower level, the CEO doesn’t know who you are. The people at the top have no idea who they are supposed to be leading. You are anonymous production units.
Do other people, at the level of the people who lead, want to be led by you?
Thanks Mitch. Glad you stopped in to share your perspective. Your question makes me think about being the type of leader who is inviting rather than intimidating.
Love this post Dan – thank you!
However high you are respect and learn from others. Spare a thought to the arduous journey which helped you reach where you are. Humility and willingness to help others grow will separate leaders from others. But what we see is contrary . I have come across various people who having grown become arrogant and loose their way. Many others thanks to their legion, think they know all and try to muscle their way. Such people make it difficult for themselves as well as others.