Neal Burgis, Ph.D.

By Neal Burgis, Ph.D.

Is Success a Breeding Ground for Leadership Complacency?

Is Success a Breeding Ground for Leadership Complacency? 150 150 Neal Burgis

What’s Your Breeding Ground for Complacency?

There’s nothing like that feeling of success. On the opposite side to success, is a dangerous shadow called complacency.  And complacency, unlike other dangers, is quiet. The saying goes – success breeds success.   But success is never overnight. There’s an eagerness to push the boundaries and to look for different ways to do things. Living on the edge or outside of your comfort zone is normal.  Comfort is a sign of complacency.

The “To-Do” of Achieving Your Goal is Checked Off

“Complacency is the last hurdle standing between any team and its potential greatness.” -Pat Riley

Great leaders understand complacency can impact their success. Enjoy your success as you keep an eye out for any difficulties that may arise. The actions you take when you view success can be seen as a final resting place for your results-or is it? Remember that success is not a location, it is about the journey. Complacency is a feeling that everything is good often while unaware of some potential danger. It can be a crisis that threatens the company. Complacency can have a leader begin to follow more than lead.

Complacency Can Lurk Behind Benchmarks.

“A leader’s greatest enemy to success is often previous success.  You become satisfied.  Complacency can set in.” – Brian Dodd

Basking in the accolades of accomplishing great results, complacency lurks through and you are often unaware of the success can lead to complacency. Complacency can impose significant problems even though you may recognize some and ignore them. Others you may not recognize as they can cause more severe damage to your organization anyway.

Be aware of when you react and when to be proactive while completing the work you do. Complacency can lead you to “settle” for mediocrity. Successful individuals and organizations typically are not complacent because of striving for continuous improvement.

Success Makes You Overconfident

“The Number one threat is us. We must not let success breed complacency. A company is never more vulnerable to complacency than when it’s at the height of its success” – Herb Kelleher

Set goals every year, quarter, month and day so that you are always looking to achieve new goals and see new views. Don’t make excuses for failures or setbacks.  See them as learning opportunities. Being blind to your own weaknesses, or worse, blind to the reality that you have weaknesses makes you overconfident. Be aware of how you put yourself or your organization out to others by checking that everything you do is ready without any problems of yourself or your organization.

Success Can Lull You into Complacency

“Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship.” -Benjamin Franklin

Success can make you overconfident but it doesn’t have to. As a leader, it’s important to avoid certain dangers as it relates to complacency. Be aware of what you can do to avoid complacency by using your creative thinking for seeing things differently.

Challenge the status quo as your success can lull you into complacency. Realize that confidence is about believing the things you do will yield positive results. Feeling uncomfortable can be your key to success. Confidence is about believing the things you do will yield positive results.

Routines may make you feel at ease and in control, yet you need to get out of your comfort zone to try other things that won’t keep you stagnant. This type of behavior dulls your thinking to do things that are easy as you’ve been doing for some time.

What drives complacency in you? Is it: (Michelle Gibbings)

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of hard work

Don’t let the fear hold you back.  Harness how it makes you feel.  In your efforts to propel action, exercise your psychological safety to ask questions.

A Final Word

“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch

Change happens every day. A leader’s greatest enemy to success is often previous success.  You become satisfied.  Complacency can be conquered if you are willing to improve what you already have on a consistent basis. With every project you begin, look at what you currently have and see what you can adjust or change for that project. Every project has its own problems you can overcome. These are just a few of the key ways to fight off complacency, so enjoy the journey of success.

What’s your breeding ground for complacency? The world is moving and changing quickly.  Do you keep pace with the change, stride ahead or are you left behind?

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It’s an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms.” – Colin Powell

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