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Smart Bosses Know that Success Breeds Failure

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September 2012
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Road sign with Succes in one direction and failure in the otherIf you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…”- Rudyard Kipling from “If”

Triumph, that moment in time when we have vanquished our competitors or achieved a level of performance long desired, is the moment of our greatest vulnerability.

It’s at this point where we are capable of over-estimating our abilities and under-estimating the abilities and drive of those who we’ve momentarily bested. It’s that point in time when malaise and over-confidence grab a seat at our organizational table.

Success breeds hubris. After hubris comes nemesis.

The best leaders recognize that in victory, their next task is the hard work of guiding their teams back to that place where hunger and drive fuel their pursuits. Good leaders fear the after-effects of success more than the struggles that derive from failure.

Disaster breeds its’ own set of leadership challenges. While the typical reaction is gloom and despair and an over-abundance of organizational self-pity, the best leaders see the seeds of future triumphs in the chaos of momentary failure. From survival to reset to the act of building something new…the steps are there, but we have to help people choose to move towards them.

Kipling had it right. These imposters, Triumph and Disaster, are best dealt with from the same unemotional perspective. Neither should be all consuming. Both represent tremendous opportunities for future successes and both contain the seeds of our demise.

Embrace success as an opportunity to renew and reset. Lead like the success is simply a gate to deal with your next set of adversaries.

Embrace disaster as an opportunity rich in learning and ripe for renewal.

In both cases, the most dangerous adversary is best viewed in the mirror.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Always lead like your future survival depends upon it. Let your team celebrate their victories or lick their wounds in defeat…for a few moments, and then start the process of reset and renewal.

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