Marshall Goldsmith titled his best selling coaching book: “What got you here won’t get you there.” The title offers an important reminder for senior executives: the very behaviours which got you successfully promoted can hold you back when you try to advance further.
Sometimes your historical success formula will do more than just hold you back, as Michael O’Leary at Ryanair has been demonstrating. As he attempts to deal with the crisis of flight cancellations caused by the scheduling cock-up, his usually reliable obsession with spending as little as possible has been making Scrooge look like a model of generosity, damaging the airline’s reputation with customers and getting in trouble with the regulator.
People under pressure tend to revert strongly to their historically most successful patterns. And the worse the situation becomes, the more they do it. The answer at such times is to seek out completely different perspectives (maybe Ryanair should hire a PR firm from the luxury good sector – not to dictate media strategy, but as a provocation to see things anew and avoid self-harm).
Andy’s Advice: Few are immune to an over-reliance on what has worked in the past, so it’s worth asking: What are you doing to develop a diverse network of advisors, peers and mentors (more diverse than you may think) who you can call on if you find yourself with a proven success formula that’s not working?