What makes it possible for some leaders to achieve sustained success?
GLICO Life had a fascinating commercial on TV several years ago. A man was driving, enjoying the ride of a lifetime in his new car.
He was wearing sunglasses and listening to great music playing in the background. The whole experience was simply exhilarating.
All was going well until he hit a bump on the road. He encountered a burst tyre and lost control of the vehicle. After a great effort to bring the car to a stop, he hit the rails and found himself hanging on the edge of a cliff.
The branch he was holding broke, and he fell into the valley.
The only thing that saved him was his policy with GLICO Life. Without a life insurance policy from GLICO Life, this beautiful life journey would have ended very sadly.
This story sometimes mimics our professional and leadership journeys. For us as leaders, all seems to be going well. We are rising through the ranks, receiving applause on every side. Everything we touch becomes gold.
And that is a great feeling. How is it that some leaders move from one success peak to another and seem to do so effortlessly?
They seem to have figured out a pattern that enables them to repeat their success. How can leaders continue to move from one peak to another without having their best years behind them? In that famous commercial, I recounted earlier, we are encouraged to “leave nothing to chance.” Here are seven ideas you can apply to keep you on a path of sustained success.
1. They always remember why they started;
Successful leaders do not leave their continued success to chance. They do not assume their future success is not a given because of their previous successes. Highly successful leaders consistently follow the disciplined processes that brought them to victory.
One leader makes it a point to remind herself of what is expected of her anytime she gets to the office before she gets out of her car. This deliberate act prompts her to stay focused on her mandate throughout the day despite whatever may be happening in the environment.
2. They manage their energy;
The effectiveness of leaders depends on how well we manage their energy. Many leaders neglect to pay attention to their physical energy levels after they achieve some level of success.
They seem to believe their success would give them the energy they need for the future. Research has shown that most leaders have significant energy deficits.
To continue winning, some leaders sacrifice sleep and exercise. Leaders who neglect these critical aspects of their energy put themselves at risk of falling over the edge.
They are leaving their performance to chance. You can only sustain your performance with superior energy management strategies focused on diet, sleep and exercise.
3. They embrace learning as part of the journey;
Success can be exhilarating, and leaders who focus on having this feeling at all costs lose sight of the learning required for continuous success.
The mindless focus on success has led many entrepreneurs and leaders on a dangerous path. Many leaders cover up what is wrong in their business so they can continue to enjoy the applause. They find it difficult to admit to mistakes they make on the journey.
This attitude does not allow leaders to take the steps needed to solve the problems they face as quickly as possible.
They would continue to enjoy the limelight rather than pay attention to fixing the challenges that may not be obvious. As my former boss used to say, there is glamour in success, not in business. Leaders who prioritize learning can openly acknowledge mistakes.
4. They do not lose their curiosity or settle for less;
Successful leaders never lose their curiosity. They are always asking questions. They do not believe that they have arrived. They continue to push themselves. After climbing a great hill, one only finds there are many more hills to climb.
They continue to set their expectations beyond the current applause. Many successful leaders start planning their next project when they are being applauded for their recent achievements.
5. They pay attention to what could go wrong;
It is a proper risk management strategy to have an insurance policy. The man in the TV commercial enjoying the ride had bought an insurance policy.
That decision proved priceless. Leaders must always identify potential constraints on the journey and strategize to resolve them should they occur.
The journey will not be straightforward, and the road will not be smooth. There will be surprises. Highly successful leaders leave nothing to chance.
They make it a point to identify the potential drawbacks on the journey. They take out what will make them lose focus or derail their efforts.
7. They have a different view of success;
Nelson Mandela said, "Do not judge me by my successes. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back again".
Successful leaders do not give up when they encounter bumps in the road. They acknowledge that a successful journey is not always a perfect journey.
There may be seasons of disappointment and failure.
For example, the much-anticipated product launch may fail or be delayed. This recognition makes it easier for leaders to deal with the challenges they encounter on the journey.
This mindset enhances their resilience and enables them to bounce back after failure. When leaders overcome the discomfort and fear of failure, they attempt more and achieve more. The leadership journey of success includes times of difficulties and bouncing back.
7. They establish a structured support and accountability system;
Highly successful leaders recognise that it takes a village to enable them to stay on the journey of success after success. This leads them to invest in a structured support system that accelerates and sustains their success.
Successful leaders work with mentors and coaches who hold them accountable and support them on the journey. Truly, they do not want to leave anything to chance.
…..be of good cheer!
The writer is the Founder of the CEO Accelerator Program and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory.
He specializes in leadership development, executive coaching and strategy consulting. The mission of The Leadership Project is to harvest highly effective leadership practices and share them in a manner that other leaders can easily incorporate into their leadership practice.
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