Achieving Success is No Reason to Stop Seeking Success


Positive Leadership in Project Management


By Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow

New York, NY, USA



A quote that caught my attention several years ago was in an article in an issue of Fast Company Magazine. The article was entitled “Keeping The Crisis in Chrysler” and the quote was “We get stupid when we start succeeding.” That quote should get you thinking, especially if your organization is currently experiencing some successful project or initiative outcomes. Success is a wonderful thing, we should embrace it, celebrate it and strive for it in our personal lives, in our businesses and in our project work. That particular quote does, however, bring to mind something that we have all experienced during periods where we were most successful. A feeling of safety, security, confidence, happiness, and maybe even invincibility. Success brings upon us a very comfortable feeling that we would like to have surround us for as long as possible. Success and the acknowledgments that accompany it release endorphins (Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain and boost happiness). We experience a release of endorphins when something positive happens.

The feeling in many cases, actually produces a desire to experience more of the same. That same feeling can also cause leaders, including project managers, to temporarily lose sight of the need to pay attention to other important goals, objectives, issues and problems. Success sometimes causes people to “let their guard down” or reduce their normal level of work effort and intensity. Basically “gliding along” on the recent success. That, in turn, can result in a weakening of preparedness for the next challenge. It’s the over-confidence that leads to complacency.

It is our job as leaders to deliver a successfully completed project (Success, we know, is defined in many ways by different stakeholders). This is often far easier said than done. Additionally, when the project is delivered to the sponsor or client and end users and fully meets expectations, there should be some time set aside for celebration and recognition. The emphasis here is to celebrate your victories!

However, along with celebrations, some attention should be given to lessons learned, what is coming next, and what is changing in the business environment. Many Project Managers are either working on highly complex projects that span several years or they are working on multiple projects with durations of a few weeks to a few months. Regardless of project duration, we all know that change is an integral part of project management. Change affects projects of short and long duration, therefore project leaders should not allow the success of one project to create a belief that all future projects will experience the same or similar outcomes.  We should certainly feel good about a successful outcome, but, it is important to maintain an awareness of factors that could overshadow a celebration of success. Sometimes an incident may occur that causes another project to become a living project management nightmare. Sometimes, the complacency, an after effect of success, is the cause root cause of a project or business disaster. There are many examples of this in history, especially military history, and in the sports world where a champion team somehow loses its momentum. The Fast Company article mentioned earlier in this article suggests the need to “keep your back to the wall.” This means that some pressure should be felt by the team or the organization even if things appear to be going well.


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Editor’s note: This article is one in a series on Positive Leadership in Project Management by Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow, popular speaker and author of books on leadership in project management published by Wiley and IIL in the United States. Frank is widely known as the originator of the International Project Management Day, the annual celebrations and educational events conducted each November by PMI members, chapters and organizations around the world.

How to cite this paper: Saladis, F. (2020). Positive Leadership in Project Management – Achieving Success is No Reason to Stop Seeking Success. PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue II, February. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/pmwj90-Feb2020-Saladis-achieving-success-is-no-reason-to-stop-seeking-success.pdf



About the Author


Frank P. Saladis

New York, USA




Frank P. Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow is a Consultant and Instructor / Facilitator within the project management profession and has over 35 years of experience in the IT, Telecom Installation and IT Project Management training environment. He is a senior consultant and trainer for the International Institute For Learning Inc. and has been involved in the development of several project management learning programs. Mr. Saladis has held the position of Project Manager for AT&T Business Communications Systems, National Project Manager for AT&T Solutions Information Technology Services and was a member of Cisco Systems Professional Services Project Management Advocacy Organization. His responsibilities included the development of Project Management Offices (PMO) and the development of internal training programs addressing project management skills and techniques.

He is a Project Management Professional and has been a featured presenter at the Project Management Institute ® Annual Symposiums, Project World, PMI World Congress, CMMA, and many PMI Chapter professional development programs. He is a past president of the PMI New York City Chapter and a Past-President of the PMI ® Assembly of Chapter Presidents. Mr. Saladis is a Co-Publisher of the internationally distributed newsletter for allPM.com, a project management information portal, and a contributor to the allPM.com project management website.

Mr. Saladis is the originator of International Project Management Day and has written numerous leadership and project management related articles. Mr. Saladis is also the author of the Project Management Workbook and PMP ® / CAPM ® Exam Study Guide that supplements Dr. Harold Kerzner’s textbook – Project Management, A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling?, 9th Edition published by John Wiley & Sons and the author of Positive Leadership in Project Management, published by IIL Publishing. He is a member of the International Executive Guild and the NRCC Business Advisory Council. He has also held the position of Vice President of Education for the Global Communications Technology Specific Interest Group of PMI ® and holds a Master’s Certificate in Commercial Project Management from the George Washington University. Mr. Saladis received the prestigious Lynn Stuckenbrook Person of the Year Award from the Project management Institute in 2006 for his contributions to the organization and to the practice of project management.  He can be contacted at saladispmp@msn.com

To view other works by Frank Saladis, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/frank-p-saladis/