Surviving Success

September 1, 2014
Today's guest post comes courtesy of Mark Miller, Vice President of
Organizational Effectiveness at Chick-fil-A and bestselling author. Receive his updates by visiting his website Great Leaders Serve or following him on Twitter.

Success is a lousy teacher. The best leaders know this and are always on guard against complacency. I recently received a question from a leader who has just completed a season of success. She is concerned her team won’t stay motivated.  How do you keep your team fully engaged in the wake of success?

This is a very thoughtful question. Most leaders are focused on “What’s next?” as we should be. However, the leader who posed this question has an intuitive sense that a let down could be around the corner. Without her leadership, she may be right.

Businessman Trophy

Success can take a toll on people – mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s good to be aware of the risk; and like any other risk, you need to manage it. Here are a few ideas to help your team cope with success and use it as the springboard for greater things to come.

Stop and Celebrate

Have you ever noticed, work never ends? This endless stream of activity can be exhausting if not debilitating. One of the ways we can manage the pace, energy and engagement of our team is to ensure frequent, appropriate celebrations. These can provide microbursts of enthusiasm for the cause and remind people: they matter and so does the work.

Capture Learnings

Even when your team wins, there are lessons to be learned. If you’ll cultivate the discipline of conducting After Action Reviews (the term the U.S. military uses for the briefing that occurs after every mission) to be sure you think deeply about what worked; what didn’t and what can be improved, this will create energy in the moment and momentum for your next challenge.

Set a New Goal

There’s tremendous power in setting a goal. Work without a goal can seem fruitless. Think of a time you were fully engaged in your work. I’m guessing several factors were present: You were doing work that mattered; you knew how your work contributed; you were operating in an area of strength if not passion. The list could go on. I’m also confident, there was a goal. You knew what you were trying to accomplish.

Pay Attention

Often, our teams will tire before we will. And, individual members of the team have unique needs. If we get too focused, we’ll miss the clues that someone is struggling. Whatever works for you to stay connected with your team members is a good approach. Don’t make too many assumptions regarding the energy and engagement of the team. One of my favorite ways to stay in touch over the years is one-on-one time with individual team members. The time investment always returns big dividends for the organization and me.

Success doesn’t have to serve as the preamble to decline. With focused effort, you can use each victory as a stepping stone to your next accomplishment.

Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret will be released September 2, 2014.