What Success Looks Like


As a very busy mid-level executive in a Fortune 100 company, he took to coaching like a duck to water. He was ready to work on himself. When we first started our work together, he thoroughly studied the 360 feedback he’d received and focused on learning from the leadership development training he’d just had. He knew immediately the goals he wanted to work on and couldn’t wait to get started.

His goals were centered on leadership, increasing personal connections with his staff, and improving his health with regular exercise and a better diet.

Driven to excel

He had a thoughtful (albeit ambitious) agenda for each of our meetings prepared ahead of time. He always called at the time we agreed to. He didn’t have to make excuses for being late or missing a meeting because he didn’t do either of those things.

He didn’t reschedule any of our meetings in the months we worked together; he said he saw the value in the reflection they provided. When it was time for us to meet, he made sure that he wasn’t distracted (turning off his cell phone, closing his laptop, asking his admin to make sure he wasn’t interrupted).

In short, he was driven to excel.

Others are now taking notice. His manager gave him a great review. People outside his team are clamoring for the openings he has in his organization (there aren’t many at any given time). Peers are asking for advice on how to create a winning team. Employees want to be mentored by him. Customers are happier than they have ever been. His team is shipping on time and within budget and they are willing to go the extra mile when needed (without grumbling).

Recognizing there’s always more to work on

It all sounds so rosy. And for the moment things are so good that a lesser leader might rest on these achievements. Yet he has some new things he wants to work on: assuring that internal customers get transitional help in the projects his team hands off to them; important relationships to forge within the larger organization, a focus on developing his direct reports so that one of them is ready to step into his position when he gets promoted (and he will).

He’s very intent about continuing to develop himself. He can see the benefits of his personal growth by the impact he’s making on his staff, customers, stakeholders and organization. He wants to expand his impact even more.

When I asked him if he was enjoying himself, he said, “Yeah, its fun.”

That’s what success looks like.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

6 comments on “What Success Looks Like

  1. Wally, as usual, your quote and quip made me smile. I rather suspect that we are aligned in the desire to never stop learning (i.e. to stay in that hospital, if you will).

  2. Thank you for the post. I like the part about turning off the cell phone. It’s a sign of our times that this simple act can be so special and meaningful.

  3. Mary Jo, this article points out a unique quality of a leader that most forget to touch on – that leadership is never attained 100% but always sought after. You can be a great leader but like a great scholar you don’t know anything and that’s what makes you more wise!

  4. I like the point of driven to excel. I think it is extremely hard for a leader to never reschedule any of the meetings with his employees and never be late for any meetings. It is a way show his personal value: his time is equal to anyone eles’. In addition, this kind of behavior will let his employees feel respected and equally treated. So it is a way to motivate his employees.

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