How to Overcome the Six Temptations of Successful Organizations Part II

In a previous blog post, I presented three of six common temptations of successful organizations outlined in my book, Up Your Business. I asserted that since prosperity can drain urgency, dealerships doing well should be aware of the tendency to let up in key disciplines that made them successful in the first place. They were:

  1. The temptation to stop working on yourself.
  2. The temptation to stop thinking big.
  3. The temptation to stop holding others accountable.


I asked that as you read over the temptations, that you would evaluate them through this lens:

  1. Has this temptation affected me, personally?
  2. Which of my team members has been affected by this temptation?
  3. Does evidence of falling for this temptation pervade the dealership overall?


I make the same recommendation concerning temptations four through six:


Temptation 4: The temptation to stop building a team. This temptation results from a successful leader’s tendency to start depending too much on him or herself. They begin to make every decision, solve each problem, and come up with all ideas personally. They often fear letting go because they assume the role of “one man show,” and can give themselves too much credit for the team’s overall success.  As a result, the leader becomes overwhelmed by micromanaging, and their team fails to grow since they’re not allowed to get out of the tiny box the boss has stuffed them in.


You can measure your effectiveness at building a team by evaluating how well your people do in your absence. In fact, this is a far greater barometer of your leadership effectiveness than how they do when you’re in the store breathing down their necks. And you can best create the conditions for them to do well when you’re not around by setting clear expectations, training them to hit those marks, and getting out of their way and letting them go after it.  


Temptation 5: The temptation to stop leading from the front. When business is rolling along, leaders gradually begin spending less time in the trenches and more time in their offices. They exchange people-work for paperwork, and begin substituting rules for the relationships that helped them achieve success in the first place. While they still speak like a leader, they act like an anchor. If one indulges in this leadership style for too long he begins to lose touch with people, reality and starts getting blindsided by crises they didn’t see coming because they were so busy charting results they failed to chart the course.  General Patton described the consequences of this phenomenon well: “It is nearly impossible to be aloof and effective at the same time.”


My favorite one word definition of a leader is “catalyst.” In order to fulfill this role it’s essential that you remain engaged with your people at the front line making it happen. Ultimately, the front line will determine the bottom line.


Temptation 6: The temptation for everyone to abandon the basics. Over the years I’ve heard professional baseball managers and head coaches of football teams say repeatedly: “We’ve got to get back to the basics.” The fact that they got away from them in the first place is evidence that this temptation is a genuine threat to winning organizations. After all, when your back is against the wall and the bottom is ready to fall out, people are alert, precise and work hard to maximize every opportunity. But when you get on a roll, it’s easy to start skipping steps, shortcutting processes and abandoning the very disciplines that served as your springboard to success in the first place.


For years, one of my favorite business philosophies has been “to become brilliant in the basics.” The four key words to pulling this off are: day-in, day-out. It’s up to the leadership team in an organization to make sure that the slogan becomes a way of life.


There you have them. The six temptations of successful organizations:

  1. The leaders stop working on themselves.
  2. The leaders stop thinking big.
  3. The leaders stop holding others accountable.
  4. The leaders stop building a team.
  5. The leaders stop leading from the front.
  6. Everyone abandons the basics.


To help create awareness of these pitfalls you may want to post these in your office or in a conference room and review them from time to time. After all, your biggest vulnerability is the one you’re unaware of.

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Comments are closed for this blog post

Comment by Dave Anderson on January 25, 2012 at 1:37pm

Thank you Bert. Keep up the good work helping those folks.

Comment by Bert Martin on January 15, 2012 at 4:42pm

Clearly, these six temptations exist in the majority of dealership service and parts operation I have

visited over the past 20 months. All service and parts managers need to analyze and inspect their corporate culture

with these temptations in mind and adjust the environment. Once again, you are richly blessed. Thanks.

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