What makes a lucky leader? Conventional wisdom (in the West, at least) suggests that there’s no such thing as luck and that all achievement is simply a function of hard work. That’s why only 2% of management journals even mention the subject. But after almost 30 years in the ad industry, I’ve come to believe that chance plays a bigger role in business success that we usually care to admit.
The reason luck is such a taboo is that it seems to denigrate the role of talent and hard work – which of course are both crucial elements of leadership. When we apply it to others, it feels like an insult. And when we describe ourselves as lucky, we might worry that we’re doing ourselves down. As we ascend the corporate ladder, this doesn’t feel like a particularly helpful career strategy.
But take a look at what the world’s most successful businesspeople have to say on the subject. Typically, they are much more open about the role of luck, or rather good fortune. Maybe it’s because their accomplishments are so obvious that they don’t worry about undermining them. Or perhaps it’s just the wider perspective that comes from being at the top of the tree. Either way, these super-achievers tend to be much more frank than the rest of us.