Daily Archives: May 15, 2008

Success Breeds Failure (Unless You Are Constantly Re-inventing Yourself)

As I indicated last week, the best presenter at this year’s 41st Annual Supply Chain & Logistics Canada Conference on Creating a Resilient Supply Chain was Jim Tompkins’ (CEO of Tompkins’ Associates) who gave the keynote and a presentation on Bold Leadership for Organizational Acceleration.

In addition to his great advice to Kill the Left-Suckers, he also made another great point – that success breeds failure. Peak-to-valley is the natural order in business, and if you think you’re going to stay at the top by doing what you did to get there, you’ve got another thing coming. If you want to stay at the top, you have to re-invent yourself the minute you get there – and not one minute later.

He also exposed some of the great myths of leadership – of which there are quite a few. These myths include:

  • Leaders create organizations that run like clock-work
    Only old analog clocks run like clockwork – and how many of those do you see these days?
  • Leaders are renegades that do things differently from others.
    Renegades tend to be loners – kind of contradictory when you think about what a leader is supposed to do.
  • Leaders are interested in immediate results and not the long term.
    No, that would be short-sighted wall street.
  • Leaders can predict the future.
    Not even futurists can predict the future on a small scale.
  • Leaders are machines that process and analyze spreadsheets.
    No, that would be misfit managers.
  • Leaders don’t rock the boat.
    Uhmm … have you ever been on a boat?
  • Leaders are compelling and fascinating people who can charm people into doing anything and everything.
    Just because some of our leaders today are sleazier than con-men doesn’t mean that they’re all grifters.
  • Leaders are into command and control.
    Leaders are into success … and that doesn’t come from hoarding.
  • Leaders lead from ivory towers.
    No, that would be academics … and considering no one in industry tends to listen to them anyway, are they really leading?
  • Leaders are among the few.
    Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Although it’s hard to define a true leader, you can define what leaders do, and they:

  • challenge the process
  • inspire a shared vision
  • enable others to act
  • model the way
  • encourage the heart as well as the head