Creative Leadership

The Downside of Success: It Can Hide Problems

As hard as it may be to believe (insert chuckle), there have actually been a number of situations where organizations have declined to hire our team at Cooke Media Group. The reason? The business, church, or nonprofit was doing great. They were successful, so why do we need an outside coach or consultant? What could he possibly tell us? That sounds perfectly logical on the surface, but that thinking has a deep flaw:

Success often hides serious problems within organizations.

Businesses, nonprofits, churches, and ministries all have this in common. When things are going well, it’s easy to miss growing problems within the organization. It happens most often because during times of success, money covers a multitude of sins.

We’re losing customers, donors, congregation, or audience? No problem – we have plenty!

We’re losing morale on our team? No problem – we’re flush with money so give everyone a raise. That will lift morale!

We have growing leadership issues? No problem – we can afford to bring in other leaders!

The culture is changing, and consumer or donor habits are changing with it? No problem – we’re still selling or getting plenty of donations!

I could go on and on, but you get it. During times of prosperity, leaders don’t really want to look too closely under the hood. After all, what’s the point? We’re doing great!

But you remember the old adage that when sales are down, it’s too late to advertise? The same is true for looking for problems when things get tough. By then, it’s a little too late.

No matter how well your ship seems to be doing today, chances are there are a few tiny cracks that nobody on the boat sees, but one day could sink the vessel. Never be so confident in your success that you’re not constantly putting your team, structure, policies, strategies, marketing, and your products under a microscope.

Because in today’s disrupted culture, anything could happen, anytime.

Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

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2 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more! I’ve been a part of a ministry that plateaued. And what we realized is while we were thought enjoying the view from up top, we didn’t see that the tram was now heading back to the bottom…

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