How do leaders and leading companies stay at the top? What keeps them innovating, trying, extending, refusing ever to rest on their collective laurels?

I think it’s a mindset, a mentality if you like. I’ve observed it in companies that I’ve had dealings with who were the acknowledged leaders in their field, and all of us as consumers are on the receiving end of leading  – and also-ran – products and services.

Two types of mindset seem to provide a constant focus for the intensity of winners. The first is paranoia. It’s the healthy version where you know you can’t stand still, you can’t rest on your laurels, or your last product, or your last quarter. There’s always someone coming up behind you, looking to take your place and be at the top of the tree. Someone’s out to get you. Fear of competition is a constant catalyst.

The second is the mentality of trench warfare. Even when they’re the stand-out leader in their field, the number 1 is constantly active, constantly ducking and diving, picking battles at close quarters, presenting a moving target to competitors, living to fight another day.

They’re not paranoid and fighting for themselves, however, they’re fighting for their customers, in every sense of the phrase. The new ones, the ones they have, and the ones they want.

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