Leaders Fight the Success Deception

There is a sweet spot when it comes to personal development.

It’s this: “I know I don’t know it all, but I’m open to learning more.”

The most successful leaders embrace this.

Yet, we’ve all seen the leader who says, “I’m doing just fine,” but is really insecure and doesn’t really know how much they don’t know.

My first boss always told me, “There is a certain wisdom that only comes with age.” He was right. And I needed to hear that. At the time, I was putting up a blustery facade, and I, and my followers, suffered greatly for it.

But that’s not the most dangerous level of self-deception, because others around you (like my first boss) can push and hold you accountable.

The most dangerous level is this false logical argument:

-I’m basically successful


-I’ve always done things this way


-My way is right, and I must not change it

and even…

-The world would be a better place if everyone did everything like me.

This leader is more dangerous, because their [justifiable] self-confidence prevents them from entering a mode of self-improvement.

I was in this mode (the wrong one) under my second boss, who told me years later “Man, you couldn’t tell that guy (young Alan) anything!

Leaders who adhere to this false notion greatly suffer from the Success Deception, and this causes two big problems:

Stagnating development


-Lack of appreciation of different approaches from others, leading to judgment, or lack of trust

Do you suffer from the Success Deception? Ask your boss, your highest performing team member, and your best friend. They’ll let you know.

  1. Sally Wilke
    | Reply

    Absolutely; interesting that we both needed to learn that lesson in our youth to be able to apply it so well today! Congratulations on another enlightening blog post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *