Here is an article written by Steve Tobak for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.
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(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Executives and business leaders don’t just peak and lose their potency over time, like wine. They change. Oftentimes, success is the culprit. Success affects everyone differently and not necessarily in a good way.
I’ve seen it happen to loads of successful CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners I’ve worked with over the years. It’s not a result of the Peter Principle, since their responsibilities didn’t change. It’s not necessarily a question of the business outgrowing their capabilities, either.
And they don’t just “lose it.” Rather, they change. Success changes them.
If you know a little about human psychology, that shouldn’t surprise you. You’ve got to really know yourself, possess unusual self-confidence, and be pretty well grounded in reality to withstand the ego-inflating onslaught of winning big in business.
Since we’re all human, we’re all susceptible to the unusual pressures and pitfalls that come from achieving what we’ve always dreamed of. In my experience, these are the ten most common traps successful leaders fall into.
[Here are two of the ten mistakes that Tobak discusses with his usual precision and eloquence.]
Becoming the status quo. Startups often break into the market by challenging the status quo. The problem is when success makes them the status quo, yet they don’t realize it. That was evident when Apple and Google challenged the BlackBerry with the iPhone and Android platform. It’s ironic that RIM’s co-founders forgot that they were once the challengers. Their failure to be proactive or even to react in time was RIM’s downfall.
Tunnel vision. They lose perspective and become rigid, sticking to their myopic vision like glue. Since competitors are unpredictable and markets are always evolving, it can be deadly to a business. If their vision fails to gain traction, they often double down and become even more grandiose. We saw that with former Sony CEO Howard Stringer‘s concept of product synergy. The only problem is it didn’t exist.
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Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve, follow him on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.