How Leaders Use Ambition to Fuel Their Success

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How Leaders Use Ambition to Fuel Their Success

“When other people are just a vehicle to get you where you want to go, ambition is working against you.”

In season 25, episode 8, John Eades covers the critical leadership skills of drive and ambition. 

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In some new research on essential leadership skills, drive and ambition are among the top five skills for professionals to possess and demonstrate on an everyday basis.  Not surprising because driven and ambitious people are self-starters that tend to get results.

To ensure we are on the same page, drive is defined as relentlessly compelled by the need to accomplish a goal. Ambition, on the other hand, is the persistent and generalized striving for success, attainment, and accomplishment.

It turns out, drive and ambition can be both good and evil when it comes to leadership skills. Since I know you want it to be good, the natural question becomes what you can do to develop this critical leadership skill? Here are a few simple ideas to get started.

Focus on Achievement over Ambition

Ambition is concerned explicitly with outcomes like money or prestige. In contrast, people who feel a need to achieve are more interested in developing skills and competence and are less concerned about material rewards.  Fall in love with achievement and finding joy in the journey of achievement.

Don’t Settle for Less Than Your Dreams

I spent some time with a coaching client this week who, after five years in the same role, asked his boss where she saw him in the next five years, and her response was “doing what you’re doing now.”  He drove home that night, and he knew he needed to move on because he wasn’t going to settle for less than achieving his dreams. 

With the current unemployment rate, many people are searching for work. If this is you, don’t let any event change how you value yourself.  Sure you might need to take a job you don’t love or do work that isn’t exactly what you want to do long term, but don’t let it change how you value yourself. 

Challenge Yourself With a New Goal, Assignment or Skill

If you are struggling with your drive and ambition right now, don’t just sit back and be lazy, challenge yourself.  The examples of challenging yourself are endless; start your own podcast, write your own book, set a new goal in your health or faith journey, or share content on tik-tok. 

There is no better time than the present to challenge yourself because it beats the alternative of binge-watching a mindless TV show or blaming and complaining about Covid-19.


The best leaders use ambition and drive to fuel their success and it’s essential you do as well. Just make sure its the good ambition and not the evil kind.

“When other people are just a vehicle to get you where you want to go, ambition is working against you.”

Increase Your Leadership Self-Awareness – Become fully aware of how you’re currently leading your team. The BTB Leader Report will reveal your current leadership style. Each report comes with a self-assessment and a direct report assessment that are combined into your BTB Leader Report.  The report shows you how you’re perceived by individual (while keeping their anonymity), your team as a whole, and how you perceive your own leadership skills, Get it Now.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of  Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.