Leader Don’ts #7:  Fear Success in Others

By | December 22, 2020

[December 22, 2020]  Like many who grow up regularly competing in sports, we often experience the thrill of victory and “the agony of defeat.”  Competition in the world of sports habitually means competing with our fellow teammates, not just the other team.  Fortunately, we quickly learn about sportsmanship and are rarely threatened by the success of others.

But, many people fear others who are succeeding.  There is a real fear and more frequent than logic might suggest.  A common explanation is that the accomplishments of others might outshine us in some way.  I found this a not uncommon trait of mid-level managers in large corporations.  Don’t we all feel a bit of a mixture of pride and jealousy when someone else outperforms us?

Jealousy is not a new phenomenon, nor is fear of the success of others.  In the Proverbs 27:4 of the Bible, it is written, “Fury is cruel, and anger a flood, but who can withstand jealousy?”   This counsel from the Bible testifies to the power these emotions have over us.

We all compare ourselves to others.  We do this as a part of our humanness.  However, by doing so, we can either push ourselves to more outstanding achievements (for the good of all and us) or waste our time and resources unhealthily competing with our peers.  A “keeping up the Joneses” lifestyle is alive and well.

This negative comparison game (us versus them) that drives fear and jealousy can be turned around.  Mature leaders are good at seeing these emotions and turning them into something for good.

First good leaders will admit they can be jealous; denying it prevents us from learning to move beyond such feelings.

Second, good leaders look for a more profound message in their fear of the success of others.  We should be able to trust ourselves and use that as inspiration to work harder and think more creatively.

Third, good leaders celebrate the success of others.  They know that failure to acknowledge our negative emotions means we will not be dealing correctly with our own feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and inferiority.

We have all witnessed others who would take action to diminish the accomplishments of others.  Avoid this practice; it accomplishes nothing.  I’ve seen senior military officers treat subordinates with disdain when the subordinate accomplishes something spectacular or does something that takes extraordinary bravery.

Fear is a strong emotion that can inflict harm on us and on others.  Don’t let it get to us.  Fear no the success of others.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

18 thoughts on “Leader Don’ts #7:  Fear Success in Others

  1. Dennis Mathes

    This is a hard one. It is truly difficult not to be jealous. But, I have found that with practice, you can learn to feel good things for those who have done well. If you are associated with them in some way (as a friend, for example), you can come away better for it.

  2. Alex Ahn

    Gen. Satterfield, you should have been a teacher. No PC in your classroom.
    Go USA

  3. Willie Shrumburger

    Good job, Gen. Satterfield on this article and as well on the series of Leader Don’ts….
    This is what I like to see whenever I log onto your site. Practical advice. Common sense advice. This is what we don’t teach our youth any more. Why?

  4. Harry Donner

    MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my friends regardless of your love of the holidays or not. I wish it upon you and pray for our world because it is the Christian thing to do and it is an obligation I take freely. ❤❤❤❤

    1. Jonathan B.

      Thanks Harry. And the same to you and your family as well.

  5. Karl J.

    “Third, good leaders celebrate the success of others.” This is the most profound (or basic common sense) statement in the entire article. Celebrate the success of other people. They will remember that you were rooting for them and assist you and help you celebrate your wins in the future as well.

    1. Jake Tapper, Jr.

      Yes, I agree. But it is MORE than PRACTICAL. It’s basic morality.

  6. Yusaf from Texas

    Another great article on a developing mini-series. we all enjoy them, Gen. Satterfield. Thank you!!!!

  7. Army Captain

    YES, excellent article and one that resonates with me. I see this all the time. That is why – from ancient philosophers and religious folks – we hear about jealousy and the negative impact it has on our lives, if we allow it so.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Thanks Army Capt for your service and insights here. I agree that we should be looking for the stories of the past that teach us about ourselves. Too bad we do not teach it in school anymore because of the PC ideologies of the progressive, leftist, neo-Marxist teachers we now have. Are you surprised these Marxists don’t want to go back to school and teach our kids during the pandemic? I’m not.

      1. Tony B. Custer

        I believe you are a High School teacher, are you not?

      2. Max Foster

        Mr. TJ. I appreciate the analysis that is hard hitting our teachers today. During the pandemic, there are many who showed bravery …. like our grocery store workers, nurses and doctors, first responders. And, there are those who showed cowardice … mostly teachers and politicians.

        1. Audrey

          Ouch, hard hitting once again Max. And, yes, Mr. Asper is a High School teacher. Good comments folks. Keep ’em coming our way … to paraphrase Gen. Satterfield.

  8. Janna Faulkner

    Love the series. Keep it up. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield. Just another reason for me and my friends to keep coming back to your leadership blog. 😊

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Yes, I’m all in on it. Fortunately, Gen. Satterfield has listed the past articles at the bottom. Usually he doesn’t.

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