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The illusion of success

The more your career is evolving, the less feedback you receive about your behavior. If nobody criticizes your behavior anymore, you might get the illusion that you have become very successful. However, it is not because people always say less to you in the course of time, that your performance is growing better and better.

People reporting to you, might be afraid of losing their own career, so they won’t give you feedback. People standing above you (a supervisory board or the CEO for instance) are especially interested in your figures (the what). Nowadays, in many companies, you won’t be criticized as long as your figures are good enough. Possible colleagues (peers) will only give you restricted information, or even no information at all, because they find it complicated or because they are too busy with their own agenda. If you are lucky, your partner at home will give you some feedback, but this person can often not fully understand your work situation and might not be objective. In short: if you don’t pay attention, you will become more and more isolated. The more your career is evolving, the more it becomes important for you to organize your own criticism!

Bad habits are almost always the reason why people can’t move forward. The next step could be a real promotion, for instance from Controller to CFO, or from COO to CEO. But you can also become much more effective in your current position if you try to break your bad habits. Now, we are talking about the how, as opposed to the what.

How can you change your behavior and how can you break your bad habits? You can, for instance, get into the habit to ask to people around you how you can improve yourself. Let them participate in your ambition to change. And avoid thinking or saying ‘that’s not true’ or ‘she doesn’t know how it really is’ after each remark you receive. It is wrong to think too much that your company has become so successful especially thanks to you. You have to realize that every promotion you receive, will make it more difficult for you to change. You can only change what you really want to change yourself.

Take advantage of the self-confidence, ambition, endurance and talent that enabled you to get this responsible position, but combine these elements with the modesty, personal development and insight required to move forward.


By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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