I am happy to say that I am from the generation that remembers the 3 R’s from my days in elementary school. Developing proficiency in Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic continues to serve me well, just as my teachers said it would. Although I may have argued the point at the time, there is no question that developing an aptitude in these three key areas set me up for success in life. I’d say that the educational successes that I’ve had that are very strongly correlated to ongoing career success and so I’m very happy that I was in school in an age during which the students were held accountable, passing and failing were available options to my teachers, and those in positions of power realized how important success in these key areas would be later in life.

My good friend Bob Lank from CEO Global Network shared his three pillars of personal success in a 60 Seconds on Leadership video I posted last year and that got me thinking about what drives success from a leadership perspective. In case you didn’t get a chance to view the video, Bob’s three pillars are:
  • Successful people know themselves (and more importantly the impact they have on others)
  • They have clarity of purpose (not necessarily for all time but certainly for the foreseeable future)
  • They are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed (they aren’t in the habit of folding up their tent at the first sign of adversity)

I read a great article on the weekend by Nicholas Bray entitled The Psychopath in the C-Suite. The article referred to a personality called SOB, for Seductive Operational Bully. The article asserted that unburdened by the pangs of conscience that moderate most people’s interactions with others, such people qualify for the label of “psychopath lite”. Outwardly normal, apparently successful and charming, their inner lack of empathy, shame, guilt, or remorse, has serious interpersonal repercussions, and can destroy organizations. “Ironically,” the author observes, “many of the qualities that indicate mental problems in other contexts may appear appropriate in senior executive positions.” That is particularly the case, he says, in “organisations that appreciate impression management, corporate gamesmanship, risk taking, coolness under pressure, domination, competitiveness, and assertiveness.” SOBs have no sense of conscience or of loyalty to their colleagues or their organisation. They often do long-term damage to both through their deceitful, abusive, and sometimes fraudulent behaviour. Because of the way they operate, however, they are often “hidden in plain sight”.