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Informative Article On Leadership – The Best Advice on Being a Business Leader Part 1: Top Business Leaders Share Their Best Advice
Fortune magazine once published an article entitled “The Best Advice I Ever Got”. It was a great article that offered wit and wisdom about achieving business success. I liked it so much, that it motivated me to produce my book, Leadership: Best Advice I Ever Got, which describes the best advice 136 successful CEOs, coaches, consultants, professors, managers, executives, presidents, politicians, and religious leaders received that most helped them become effective and successful business leaders.
Here is their best advice.
1. A leader makes things happen.
If you want to make something happen with your life – in school, in your profession or in your community, do it. Perceived obstacles crumble against persistent desire.
John Baldoni, Author, Leadership Communication Consultant and Founder of Baldoni Consulting LLC, shared this advice that had come from his father, a physician. He taught him the value of persistence. At the same time, his mother taught him compassion for others. Therefore, persistence for your cause should not be gained at the expense of others. Another bit of leadership wisdom!
2. Listen and understand the issue, then lead.
Time and time again we have all been told, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason”… or as Stephen Covey said, “Seek to understand, rather than be understood.” As a business leader, listening first to the issue, then trying to coach, has been the most valuable advice that Cordia Harrington, President and CEO of Tennessee Bun Company has been given.
3. A successful business leader can answer the three questions everyone within his or her organization wants answers to.
What the people of an organization want from their leader are answers to the following: “Where are we going?” “How are we going to get there?” “What is my role?” Kevin Nolan, President & Chief Executive Officer of Affinity Health Systems, Inc. believes the more clarity that can be added to the answers to each of the three questions, the better the result.
4. Successful business leaders need to master the skills that will allow them to work anywhere in today’s dynamic business world.
Debbe Kennedy, President, CEO and Founder of Global Dialogue Center and Leadership Solutions Companies, and author of Action Dialogues and Breakthrough once shared this piece of advice that was instrumental in shaping her direction, future and achievements.
She was a young manager at IBM just promoted to her first staff assignment in a regional marketing office. For reasons she can’t explain, one of her colleagues named Bookie called her into his office while she was visiting his location. He then began to offer unsolicited advice, advice that now stays fresh in her mind. He mentioned that jobs, missions, titles and organizations would come and go as business is dynamic – meaning it is always changing. He advised her not to focus your goals toward any of these, but instead learn to master the skills that will allow you to work anywhere.
He was talking about four skills:
The ability to develop an idea;
Effectively plan for its implementation;
Achieve superior results time after time.
With this in mind, Kennedy’s best advice is to seek jobs and opportunities with this in mind. Forget what others do. Work to be known for delivering excellence. It speaks for itself and it opens doors.
Paul B. Thornton presents more of the best advice for being a successful business leader that seven top leaders ever received on the next page. Click to continue reading about effective leadership.Here’s more of the best advice on how to be an effective leader from seven top business leaders.
5. An effective business leader has to be curious.
Curiosity is a prerequisite to continuous improvement and even excellence. The person who gave Mary Jean Thornton, Former Executive Vice President & CIO, The Travelers, this advice urged her to study people, processes, and structures. He inspired her to be intellectually curious. He often reminded Thornton that making progress, in part, was based upon thinking.
She has learned to apply this notion of intellectual curiosity by thinking about her organization’s future, understanding the present, and knowing and challenging herself to creatively move the people and the organization closer to its vision.
6. An effective business leader has to listen to both sides of the argument.
The best advice Brian P. Lees, Massachusetts State Senator and Senate Minority Leader, ever received came from his mentor, United States Senator Edward W. Brooke III. He told him to listen to all different kinds of people and ideas.
Listening only to those who share your background and opinions can be imprudent. It is important to respect your neighbors’ rights to their own views. Listening to and talking with a variety of people, from professors to police officers, from senior citizens to school children, is essential not only to be a good business leader, but to also be a valuable member within your community.
7. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. If one has truly prepared and something goes wrong the strength of the rest of what you’ve prepared for usually makes this something easier to handle without crisis and panic. One of the best pieces of advice Dave Hixson, Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach at Amherst College has ever received and continues to use and pass on is this anonymous quote – “Preparation is the science of winning.”
Along with this are two expressions from Rick Pitino’s book Success is a Choice, which speaks to preparation. Hixson asks his teams every year: “Do you deserve to win?” and “Have you done the work?” This speaks to the importance of preparation toward achieving your final goal. If you haven’t done the work (the preparation) the answer to the second question is an easy “no!”
One Last Piece of Best Advice
Great advice on being an effective business leader comes from many sources – parents, other relatives, consultants, bosses, co-workers, mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends. The important point to remember is to stay open, listen to everyone, but also develop your own leadership style.
- KJ Innovations, Inc. Launches a New Website to Keep Clients Informed During Growth
- KJ Innovations, Inc. Rewards Top Performing Members of the Team with a Trip to Nashville
- KJ Innovations, Inc. Sees Distinctive Growth in First Months of Being in Business
- KJ Innovations Exceeds Client Expectations In First Two Months
- KJ Innovations Awards Two Top Team Members With A Trip To Nashville
- KJ Innovations, Inc. Sees Distinctive Growth in First Months of Being in Business
- KJ Innovations Awards Two Top Team Members With A Trip To Nashville
- KJ Innovations Launches A New Website To Keep Clients Up To Speed During Growth
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Nick was born in Baltimore, MD and graduated with a degree in Finance from Loyola University Maryland. With the turn in the economy around the time of graduation, Nick realized that working for a large corporate firm was not necessarily the safest option for him. Nick started as an intern working with the leading fiber optic provider in the Baltimore area as well as the largest provider in office supplies. He quickly saw that his hard work and efforts were being rewarded. Shortly after graduation, Nick was given the opportunity to expand to the Boston area to work with a Fortune 100 client who was the number one telecommunications provider in the area. In Boston, Nick focused on developing his management and leadership skills to advance even further.
In May 2011 Nick became an entrepreneur and expanded his office to Southern New Jersey. Nick has worked on multiple campaigns, with his current focus being in the growing energy consulting field.
Currently, he is working with one of the largest energy providers in the region focusing on increasing market share for the client. The goals now are to provide opportunity to others around him and continue to expand into several new markets in the upcoming year.
What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? This is a question that every business owner wants to know, with many trying to understand if there’s some magic formula to achieving success.
There is no “ideal” entrepreneurial personality – successful entrepreneurs can be analytical or intuitive, risk-averse or thrill seeking, or gregarious and taciturn. However, experts suggest that successful small business entrepreneurs, whether male or female, share some common characteristics.
Below are some of these characteristics:
1. They dream big.
Successful entrepreneurs have the ability to envision a new reality and the will to bring it to fruition. They have crazy big dreams, even though to some these dreams may not be realistic or practical. But it is the big dreamers who really succeed. They are possibilities thinker who believe there are possibilities and are not limited by commonly held boundaries. They look beyond to ask the “what ifs” questions. They look for answers and solutions and aren’t daunted by challenges. In fact, they relish challenges.
2. They have a passion for positive change.
The entrepreneurs who make it big know that they have a unique contribution to make to society. They start a business, not just to change their own lives, but also to make a difference in the world and make it a better place. They want their products or services to succeed not only in terms of profits but to bring about positive change in the communities they live in by solving existing problems or filling existing gaps. They are motivated by their desire to improve circumstances at the broader level.
3. They have a clear vision of what they want to achieve.
Successful entrepreneurs have the vision for the future – what they want to achieve, what opportunities they need, and how they can accomplish it. Their vision gives them purpose and helps maintain their focus on what they want the business to achieve. It also helps them overcome the many humps and challenges they meet along the way.
4. They engage in calculated risk taking.
Contrary to common wisdom, entrepreneurs are not risk addicts. Instead, they take reasonable risks. While taking risks is part of the entrepreneurship process, those who succeed weigh the options, see what else is out there, and careful about the types of risks they are willing to take for themselves and those that might rely on them.
5. They are self-directed and self-motivated.
Entrepreneurs have a strong faith in their ideas, their capabilities and in themselves. After all, to succeed, they constantly need to ask themselves the hard questions and then come up with ways to answer them. They have “intestinal fortitude” or that “fire in the belly.” They love to be their own boss, carving their own paths along the way. .
6. They are results-driven.
Successful entrepreneurs are passionate about results. They want their actions to have a direct impact on results. They want the job done. They also have the ability to conceptualize the whole of a business; not just its individual parts, but how they relate to each other. They are individuals who always come up with new ideas.
7. They have a strong desire to be independent.
Entrepreneurs love to be in charge and be their own boss. They want to be in control. They carve their own path, relying on their own talents, instincts and skills. They don’t take orders from anyone and do not need validation from superiors judging them whether they are worthy of a promotion or capable of handling more responsibilities. They move and make decisions on their own, without waiting for someone to push them. While being in charge can be daunting at times, the rewards of seeing the results of all the hard work are tremendous.
8. They know how to sell. Business is all about selling.
Whether selling their idea to an investor, negotiating with a bank for a loan, talking to a supplier, or directly selling to customer, entrepreneurs know how to sell. The business is bound to fail if the entrepreneur does not know how to sell. If they do not have sales skills, they are smart enough to partner with someone who excels at it.
9. They have a powerful drive to accumulate wealth.
Entrepreneurs appreciate what money could bring to their lives – and embrace it. They know that financial success can afford them with opportunity, freedom, and well-being. They view starting their own businesses as an opportunity to earn far more than they could ever from working for others. Win, lose or draw, entrepreneurs want to be master of their own financial destiny.
10. They embrace fear.
Successful entrepreneurs strongly believe in themselves. In fact, many of them are supremely confident individuals. However, their strong belief in themselves doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t experience self-doubt. They do! They experience fear, but instead of running away from their fears, they embrace what they fear the most and just plod on.
11. They exhibit tolerance towards ambiguity.
Even though there is no assurance that a business will succeed, entrepreneurs are not daunted by this uncertainly and instead continue to pursue the idea of starting a business.
12. They see opportunities where others do not.
Those who succeed in business have finely honed business skills based on their environment, education, experience and innate intuitive abilities. What sets them apart is their inherent sense of what is “right” for a business. They have the ability to spot opportunities for growth, with loads of courage to pursue these opportunities. They love the challenge of pitting their resources and skills against the environment.
13. They are not afraid to make mistakes.
Successful entrepreneurs are not afraid of making mistakes because they see it as an opportunity to learn and improve. They don’t focus on blame and retribution, and instead work on finding solutions to rectify the mistake and prevent it from happening again.
14. They seek out help when needed.
Successful entrepreneurs realize that they don’t know everything. They will pull in resources and seek the advice of experts to help them achieve their goals. They know that they key to getting things done is to find the right people who can do the job. They understand their strengths and weaknesses – and find people who can complement them in areas that they need the most.
15. They have the willingness and capacity to persevere.
Entrepreneurs possess a high level of energy, sustainable over long hours to make the business successful. They welcome the responsibility that goes to owning a business. They are tenacious, always finding a way to display persistence or able to dig deep within oneself to find it. When things don’t go their way, they are able to handle thousands of rejections along the journey.
16. Good interpersonal skills.
They recognize that much of their success will depend on how well they deal with people. While success in entrepreneurship takes rugged individualism, it’s a “team sport” at it’s core.
Successful entrepreneurs possess huge doses of discipline. Discipline is important to stay focused on their objectives and vision. The process of building an idea into a business entails working on a lot of details — some of which the entrepreneur may not want to deal with — but it is discipline that makes the entrepreneur work on completing every task. As an entrepreneur, it is easy to go off strategy, including the allure of not working (for home-based entrepreneurs, that mean sleeping or watching TV instead of working), and discipline keeps them on the right track.
18. They keep their focus.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that focus is a key ingredient to the success of their business. They know the importance of identifying and concentrating on making the unique aspects of their business as superb as possible. They are clear on what their business stands for, and stick to it. They don’t have to grab all opportunities that come their way or try to do too much too quickly. They keep their eyes on the prize and spend their resources, time and energy in focusing on the attainment of their goals — running and developing a successful, profitable and viable business. Every day, their focus is how to further enhance their business.
19. They are flexible.
Successful entrepreneurs are always on their toes, ready to make the shift if needed. They know that as the business grow, the needs of their business changes and they will require help in developing and executing their vision. Their managerial skills become critical, and their understanding of the market and competition becomes crucial. They know that sleeping on the job is the worst mistake an entrepreneur can make, and they always strategize and prepare for change.
20. They love what they do.
Successful entrepreneurs are passionate with what they do. They love what they do, and their work feels more like fun, play and inspiration. They more they are having fun and loving what they do, financial rewards come easier. They are energized by the activities and challenges of their business. Even if they fail often, their passion keeps them going until they get it right.
Before committing yourself to the extraordinary investment of time, energy and money that starting a business requires, you need to engage in some personal soul-searching. You need to review your pluses and minuses, your strengths and weaknesses to determine if you are a suitable match for the challenge. Remember, the entrepreneur IS the business – its originator, its motivating force, and its energy. Without the needed ingredients, the business can fail as quickly as it started.