The stats say if your performance doesn’t suck today, it likely will tomorrow.
In the middle of a downturn, it's easy to blame the economic environment for our performance woes... and it's easier than you might think to unwittingly encourage a culture of complacency.
Here are a few of points to consider.
Only by maintaining a factual perspective can everyone see there is a problem. Teams must set meaningful targets and make those intensely personal for each person.
In a Yoda-esque statement, former CEO, and chairman of the board of Intel Corporation, Andy Grove said, “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” Leaders must remain ever vigilant.
"Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive."
Complacency is the result of inaction by leadership; and inaction is a choice
"Do. Or do not. There is no try."
Low performers are complacent because they are allowed to perceive they are succeeding at something. I consistently come across performance issues which are rooted in leadership not holding everyone to a “standard of success” based on the creation of real value.
The good news... it can be prevented, and it can be reversed.
In a previous post, published the eve before the Mayweather Pacquiao "Superfight", I explored what leaders could learn from boxing regarding process, engagement, resilience, and culture. I'd like to reflect on something else evident during this event:
As the bell rang the end of what was billed as "the fight of the century", both boxers mounted the corner ropes to accept the admiration of the crowd. Manny Pacquiao raised his arms high, the crowd cheered and he blew kisses in thanks. Floyd Mayweather Jr. struck a defiant pose, rejected the jeering and hurled boastful protests at hecklers.
Manny Pacquiao came to fight as a champion and role model to a nation. A rags to riches story, standing up for the impoverished, wearing his passion for his country and sharing his faith with the world.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather, self styled as TBE “the best ever”, proved both his boxing and promotional prowess. While being “the best ever” is disputable - he is very good - and has the bank account to prove it. The Mayweather brand is is all about Floyd Mayweather Jr. - and he is living large.
Boxing is about points. Boxing is about punches. Boxing is about spectacle. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a master of all these things… he won the fight, yet he lost the crowd.
There is another stark lesson here for the leader. Personal excellence and success alone is not enough to keep people committed.
If you’re successful you may find people who want follow to get a piece of the action… they want to live just as large. They will follow you until they reach that point themselves or find a role model who might get them there faster… This can be fine in a mentoring relationship, but is more difficult if you are trying to lead others in contributing towards a common goal.
A group comprised of people focused on accumulating wealth, status or some other self-serving benefit may cooperate, but rarely act as a real team. Fickleness and instability ruin these arrangements. If you lose - they go. If you show weakness as a leader - they pounce.
People don’t stand up for a person... People stand up for what a person stands for.
Manny Pacquiao stands for things much larger than himself.
If you stand for something larger than yourself, you’ll find impassioned people adopt your vision as their own… albeit for their own reasons. This gives you tremendous momentum and energy to carry you through tough times towards success. You know you have a team when everyone stands for the cause and each other.
A note about the featured artwork:
The artist expressed his support for Manny Pacquiao by painting the Filipino boxer using his own blood. Elito Circa, who goes by Amangpintor, is known for using his own hair and blood (Type O) for his paintings. His painting of Pacquiao "Hearted Fist" depicts the different aspects of the boxer's life, including his stint as a singer and his role as a congressman.
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