“Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye,” wrote the Bard in Love’s Labour’s Lost. And just as beauty is subjective, so is success.
Success, by definition, is relative, not absolute. Apple’s earnings per share rose 40% last quarter. That was only deemed a success because the expectation was 33%.
A manager succeeds or fails based on the expectations of his masters, be they more senior managers, a board or shareholders at large.
A manager must understand the expectations of his constituents. Though he may accomplish great things, he won’t be a success unless they deem him to be so.