Size Does Not Guarantee Success
Have you ever thought that once you could grow your company to a certain size, success would be guaranteed? Slam dunk. Have you imagined that once that happens, your work will become easier? Automatic.
I did—and I was wrong. If you are in leadership, it does not matter how large your organization becomes, you will always have to fight to keep yourself sharp, to lead your team to higher ground, and to keep the sharks at bay from ripping your company apart.
Here is how I thought the equation worked: You work really hard for a while, and then you relax while the momentum and leaders you built will take things forward and keep your organization soaring to higher levels. That was definitely the wrong expectation.
If you are in leadership, you always have to be ready to fight tough and work hard. The world is a fluid place. Industries change (think of Blockbuster), disruption happens (the iPhone made the Blackberry obsolete), and customer demand evolves (enter online shopping). Coasting and taking a snooze at the helm is not a part of a leader’s life. Even if things appear steady, you must be working hard to predict the coming waves.
I was recently reading an excellent book called Authentic Leadership by Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic. He says, “In business people have a tendency to think that if they just hit some magic size or hit a particular milestone, they not only will achieve success, but it will become easier to be successful.” As leaders, we must understand what we signed up for. If we don’t, after working hard for a while and not finding amazing success, we will give up.
We must understand the great risks so we remain vigilant. We must understand the finality of any organization, so as to not put all of our eggs into the one basket of success. Even the biggest companies fail, even the smartest leaders stumble, and even the most prudent entrepreneurs go bankrupt.
But when you are in a season to lead, to build, to create, do it well, and give it all you’ve got. As long as you choose to lead, you must be willing to be on the field charging and defending. In leadership you cannot sit on the sidelines. Go for it with gusto. Make a positive difference along the way. Touch people’s lives the best way you know how. In doing all of that, you will have succeeded.
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