What’s luck got to do with it? Short answer is, a lot more than we care to admit. The good news is there is such a thing as skill based luck that we can cultivate and thus improve our odds for success when hiring employees, choosing managers and thriving as a leader.
The predominant view in the American business culture is we make our own luck by working hard and working smart. It is an inherent part of the American dream to believe that we are in control of our own destiny. A CEO who delivers big profits and high stock prices is a brilliant leader. During the dot-com and real estate booms, many looked like geniuses.
“Chance often plays a greater role than we think, or than successful managers usually like to admit.” – P. Rosenzweig, The Halo Effect
What leaders need to understand that there are two kinds of luck.
Skill-based luck is the luck you create – as in the old saying, “luck happens when opportunity and preparation collide. It is possible to develop (and assess for when hiring) the skills necessary to make luck come your way: communicate your passion to customers and employees, persevere in the face of fear, subjugate personal desires to the greater goal, fight ego and arrogance with humility, just to name a few. When you combine these elements, you appear to be one lucky leader. Being successful, you attract even more good fortune. And when true bad luck comes your way, you will apply hard work and a positive mental attitude to overcome it.
We can’t say enough about the need to have a positive mental attitude to increase skill-based luck. Cynics and curmudgeons do not inspire peak performance in their teams. Depressed, negative people do not see opportunity and will be the first to tell you they are unlucky. I know, I know – it sounds like more of the psychobabble you hear absolutely everywhere these days: from Oprah, your therapist, your mentor, you name it – they are talking about a positive outlook. Well add Smart Performance Strategies to the list. We preach it because it is true! When hiring, assess for positive attitude. You can teach skills, but it is much more difficult to teach an optimistic outlook. The right hire will bring their own skill-based luck! I almost forgot to mention that other pesky kind of luck, pure luck; the luck (good and bad) that just happens by chance. The best advice when it comes to pure luck is to acknowledge its role in your success or failure. Most team members are aware that some things are beyond their own, or management’s, control. It is demoralizing and disingenuous to pretend otherwise. There is no explanation for luck. Both good and bad occur as teams seek the summit. You can lead your team and do it all correctly with no mistakes, and still be swept over a cliff by an avalanche. Here’s to success and prosperity in 2013 as you continue your ascent to the summit. Dare I say “Good Luck!” (Check out my article on luck written along with Don Schmincke ? Click here for link.)