Stories by George Parsons and Richard Pascale, Harvard Business Review

Crisis at the summit

The romanticised portrayal of superstars celebrates a happy combination of natural gifts, ambition, circumstance, and timing ­— all fuelling an unimpeded ascent to the top. But even for the most gifted individuals blessed with a series of fortuitous career developments, the path to the top is often not smooth. As they master each assignment along the way, an unrecognised affliction can strike.
Its cause, paradoxically, is success itself. After the novel demands of the current position have been conquered and before the next job begins (with its new requirements for growth) is a vulnerable time for overachievers. Incapable of coasting, they can lose their bearings and question their purpose. Confusion can evolve into inner turmoil. If left unattended, this summit syndrome may derail promising careers and deprive organisations of talent they’ve banked on for their future. The problem is, its early signs are hard to detect and easy to ignore.

Written by George Parsons and Richard Pascale, Harvard Business Review11 July 07 22:00