The Dangers of Success?

How to avoid pitfalls of success that get us stuck and build for long-term success


Much has been written about pitfalls in business, how this or that decision, habit or tendency may trigger failure. One topic that sometimes gets missed in these conversations is the danger of too much success. Too much too fast overwhelms us, scattering our focus and reducing our effectiveness as leaders. Let’s look at some ways we might be mindful of this dynamic while building for success in the long term.


Recruiting the right people

Our capacity for success is limited by our own ability, so it’s important we invest time, every day, to grow personally and professionally. In addition, the team around us will either limit or facilitate our long-term success. When we consider the team we’re building, here are a few questions to ask:

  • Who are they, really? Not what do they do, who are they individually and as part of your team?
  • What qualities and talents do they bring to the table?
  • What are their reasons for being on this team, and how will that influence their participation?
  • Is each member of the team clear on where we are leading them?

Knowing the answers to these questions puts us in a much better position to plan for the future. Assuming these answers or failing to ask them creates a trap we may not see until much later.


Building with the right people

Scalability is a vital metric all of us are wise to keep in mind as we grow. How will we do more of what we’re doing now in order to increase our income and our profit margin? Recruiting and nurturing the right team around us is a foundational step in achieving long-term success. The right team makes us bigger than we are, allowing us to do more with what we have, reach more people with our message, and protect our vision as we scale up and grow.

Early on, this involves connecting with certain people with specific skills to allow us, as the leader, to free up more time to focus on things we need to be doing. Eventually, though, we have to build some duplication into our team in order to do more of what makes us successful.

This is the point where, too often, a leader builds a system to facilitate growth and calls it “done.” In many cases, though, when we do this, we’re skipping a step. Before building the system, determine why we want to grow. That motivation is a key part of our vision and will play a role in how we inspire our team long-term. What “bigger” difference do we wish to make, and how will doing “more” actually deliver “better” results as we grow?


Building for today and tomorrow

Team building and leadership development are ongoing processes. That doesn’t mean “more” is “better.” Having the right people is more important than having more people. If we find ourselves struggling to keep the right people, take a closer look at the recruiting process, as well as our own leadership style. Either or both may need some work, and it’s much better to address that sooner than later.

As we reach each new level of growth, both our personal lid as the leader and the overall capacity of our team must continue to grow, staying a step ahead of our progress, or we will eventually hit a wall or cross a boundary where our success calls for more than we have to give. This is the danger zone intentional team-building helps us avoid.

To avoid this danger zone and take full advantage of the talent and ability on our team, we need to be strategic about how we invest in our people. Being engaged in becoming leaders, in practice and position, puts them in a better position to help us grow. They need the resources and the opportunity to grow, and they depend on us to provide those tools.

When we make it a point to intentionally add value to the people on our team, they pick up on that behavior, creating a culture of mutual inspiration, encouragement and intentional leadership. When each member of our team is engaged in the vision in this way, both with their responsibilities and each other, this process will naturally multiply the leadership capacity and raise the success lid on our team. This happens because a healthy growth environment puts positive, inspirational pressure on everyone to grow, both in their own value to the team and in their support of each other. This dynamic is one of the main reasons the best teams tend to attract the best people. Everyone wants to succeed, to be valued and to be part of an organization that provides opportunities for both.


Multiplication is the key

There’s a fundamental difference between adding value and multiplying it. When we invest in people without allowing them to grow as leaders, we may be adding value to our team, however we are not really expanding our capacity for growth. When we help people grow as leaders, we multiply our potential. This is the best strategy for avoiding the pitfall of too much too soon, while encouraging healthy growth and building for long-term success.

In a recent blog, I asked five questions to help you gauge your relational leadership lid. In the next blog series, we will begin unpacking each of these questions to help us all grow as leaders who inspire other leaders.



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