CEO Coaching: Why Did You Succeed?

“Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance!”


It’s a good idea to understand what happened when you fail. Not to dwell on it, but to learn. As an individual and as a business. 

It’s also valuable to understand what happened when you succeed. Not to claim the title of genius, but to learn. Perhaps you just danced in front of a rainstorm, but there are often things to learn and replicate.

The military calls these deep dives “after-action reviews.” It leads to continual improvement if done well. 

Similarly, Peter Drucker talks about “feedback analysis” in his seminal article “Managing Oneself.” Write down what you expect of yourself, and force yourself to review the results. This simple concept helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses. (Drucker was a proponent of abandoning your weaknesses and focusing on your strengths. I support this but urge you to take that advice in moderation! You can’t avoid everything you aren’t currently good at.) The practice is just as valid for a business or business unit as an individual. 

Regardless of what you call it, it’s a top-tier practice to: (a) state your expectations, (b) understand and document the execution components (i.e., have a plan!), and (c) review the results to see what you can learn. 

You can do this with weekly objectives, quarterly business unit plans, projects, and business strategy, as well as individual goals such as exercise. Just remember that correlation isn’t causation. (If you were successful last week while wearing only black turtlenecks, that’s unlikely the cause of your success.)

Although you cannot know the cause and effect for everything, you can—with the right people in the room, asking the right questions—learn from your mistakes and successes. 

Or you could just wait for the clouds to build before you start your rain dance! What process do you have to learn from your mistakes and successes?

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