The Six “Must-Have” Attributes of Successful Business Managers

There can be no doubt that the winners in business are those who break the rules and chart new, creative courses of action. I’ve seen it countless times as a CEO of major insurance companies and it’s good to know that rule-breaking is alive and well in business. Often, these trailblazers are running new, entrepreneurial businesses, but just as often they head some of the biggest names in business.

Think of Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, Steve Jobs, the guru of Apple, Inc., Bill Gates of Microsoft, or Richard Branson of the Virgin empire. Entrepreneurs like these are noted first and foremost for breaking the rules; for challenging the tradition that says, “You can’t do that.” Still, true maverick rule-breakers are too few on the American business scene.

If you want to join these successful business rule-breakers, you’ve got to start by thinking like they do. And that means you have to learn and practice that six character traits that they do.

The first sign of a rule-breaker is relentless curiosity. The man or woman who “cheats” on the old, outmoded rules of business is constantly asking questions and challenging the way things are done. They consistently question established procedures and mores. Just because a business has always done things a certain way is no reason why changing times and conditions call for new tactics.

Successful business managers often exhibit other attributes as well:

1. Willingness to adopt new perspectives whenever possible
2. Openness to try new things and to do old things differently
3. Compelling drive to act on ideas to test their true value
4. Eagerness to listen to others and profit from their input, regardless of who gets credit
5. Respect for and support of others when they propose new courses of action

Rule-breaking behavior requires an openness and willingness to look at the world in new ways. Rule-breakers know that new ideas need nurturing and support. But they know that thinking about a new idea is not enough. The true value of a good idea resides in its implementation. As management expert Peter Drucker declared, “Ideas are cheap and abundant. What is of value is the effective placement of these ideas into situations that develop into action.”

On the surface, rule-breaking doesn’t require any special skills. You don’t have to have an MBA from an Ivy League university. In fact, you don’t need a degree at all. But if it’s so easy to be a rule-breaker, and the potential for reward is so great, why, then, doesn’t everybody do it?

The Will to Cheat Is Hammered Out of Us

When we’re young, we’re much more apt to be rule-breakers for the simple reason that children don’t know any better. Children commonly exhibit the inclination to question why things are done the way they are. It’s natural. As soon as babies can talk, they ask, “Why?”

Schools only exacerbate the problem. The educational system is founded upon the pedagogy of answering questions, not asking them. Students are rewarded for the proper rote playback of answers, not their ability to question the reasons for the answers or, sometimes more important, the assumptions behind the questions. It’s no wonder that a child’s willingness to question and break rules is exorcised as if it were a troublesome evil spirit.

Rule-Breakers on the Fringes

We have to recognize that daring to think and do things differently exposes us to risks as well as rewards. But you know what? Even though you may risk the ridicule and tsk-tsk of your friends, teachers, parents, business associates, bosses, and an endless string of others; even though there is a risk that you’ll come up with a dumb idea for which you’ll be chastised; even though some may perceive you as a show-off or know-it-all; even though all of this may be true, when you finally succeed by doing things differently, the reward and personal satisfaction is so much better than the punishment, it’s not even a contest.

The only reason the downside exposure exists is simply to control you: to intimidate you so that you’ll be unwilling to be a rule-breaker and a creative thinker. The result? Many potential rule-breakers are afraid to engage in behavior that could potentially make waves. Instead, they lay low and avoid the possibility of future embarrassment and pain. The bottom line is that, even though we start out in life as rule-breakers and cheaters, most of us become timid feeders in a sea of conformity before we ever get our first job out of college.

Fortunately, even if one is not born a creative rule-breaker, you can acquire the talent, and it’s well worth learning and practicing. To develop and nurture this talent in yourself, you first must overcome the way your psyche has been bullied for so long and start asking questions. Has it always been done this way? Why? Is their a better way? To achieve real success in your life and career, it is essential to recondition yourself to challenge convention. I know that this is easy for me to say. I’ve made my millions, and I have little to lose now by rocking the boat. But I insist that you can do it too.

Become Action Personified: How Success Comes to Those Who Act

Well it is a New Year. Again! Funny how they come round every year and at the same time?!

For many of us the holiday is over – literally and figuratively. Now it is back to work. No more parties, no real excuse to overindulge, no laughter, and no family gatherings (for good or, sadly for some, bad).

Hopefully, the first words out of the mouth of your boss, leader, manager or whatever heading they go by has not been, “Okay the fun is over. It is back to work!”

Hopefully, the reality of returning to work has not been one of dread.

As often arises with something new, the New Year brings with it new cheer, new hope, new optimism and new opportunities.

The wide perception is that you have a blank slate. You can start anew.

And we all know (well most of us will be aware) that with a New Year comes resolutions. We also know that many do not survive much beyond the first days, weeks or month.

From my own observation, as an example, my gym gets busy every January. Whereas before I could easily work through my various routines as one of the few that enter the gym as it opens before the birds are awake, now I have to wait or detour or re-plan my workout. Fortunately for the true regulars we know the situation will return to normal in 4-6 weeks.

Resolutions have behind them good intentions. The reality is that there can be a lack of commitment and thereby action.

So what is the resolution you made as it relates to work this year? How is it going so far? Easy? Tough?

When it comes to those resolutions if you don’t like failure then the easy out is to not make any. The tougher choice, as with any change for the better (to which a resolution intends to give rise), is to proceed to succeed. Do that and you will make a difference – to yourself, to your job and, therefore, to your organization.

Please let me empathize. Your success requires action.

A past client and seemingly raving fan of mine commented that her various followers, clients and connections needed to understand the importance of taking action – especially where it relates to winning through and becoming a success.

To know the success others enjoy you must take action (I know I have repeated that but it is the key point). No “ifs”. No “buts”. Once a resolution or decision is made act on it. This is NOT an option.

Go ahead! I dare you. Name one successful person, team or organization who has achieved success or is, better yet, an on-going success and they will have this one key trait in common. You can bet they deliver on their resolutions. In all my research, study and experience I have been unable to find that inaction is a key to success. (Note I said “a” key rather than “the” key. Action is, however, a critical one.)

Joe Vitale talks about living from a place of inspired action. I agree. As Joe is often quoted, “The universe likes speed“. Speed is often of the essence of action. It keeps you ahead on your Journey of Success and, keeping your Vision in view, it keeps you moving in the right direction.

Just look at the word, “action“. Purposefully, in the middle of “action” is “i“. I act on. Therefore, it is up to you to act on what is before you. Fail to take action at your own peril. Do you really want to disappoint yourself over your resolutions?

My Dad always told me that nature and how it thrives is based on survival of the fittest. Look at the Cheetah – the epitome of action on land. If it did not run it would not catch its prey. If it did not catch its pray, it would starve. If it starves it cannot perpetuate the species. If it cannot procreate, it dies!

To be fit implies you take action. Couch potatoes are not fit. Athletes are. Businesses that don’t make it past the first 2 years (80% according to Michael Gerber, author of The E-myth Re-Visited) are not fit. Business that lead are. People and businesses dependent on government and society hand-outs are not fit. People and businesses that are resistant to change are not fit. Those who embrace change are. After all, change is inevitable; growth is optional. People who are unmotivated or just do the minimum at work are not fit. Those who are proactive and growing are.

To grow fitter and stronger this year make those resolutions that are realistic and press on. To endure your Journey of Success means you must become “Action” personified. To get to where you are going you need to move. Just ask Usain Bolt.

So what are those 1-3 resolutions you have made you are going to stick to?

What difference will achieving them make to you, your job and your organization?

What is the first action you must take to build your momentum?

So don’t just sit there, take action. You will be glad you did. You can thank me later!

How to Use Accountability to Build Business Success

Learning how to use accountability to build success for your business is an effective way to build a better business. What exactly is accountability in business? Accountability is taking full responsibility for your actions or non-actions in life and in business. Regardless of the money invested or personal passion for the business, if you don’t hold yourself accountable for the success of your business, there’s only a slim chance you will ever reach the level of success you have in mind.

While there are several components to building a successful business, many entrepreneurs fail to realize that accountability is the driving force behind success or failure. It is essentially a “no-excuses” approach to everything business. Ask any successful business owner and they’ll confirm the only reason things happened was because they understand they were the only person who could make or break the business.

How does accountability make a positive impact on the success of your business? Take a look at the four top distinguishing factors of business owners who use accountability to get results.

Top Distinguishing Factors of Business Owners Who Use Accountability
1. Taking full responsibility for action and non-action
2. Organized, productive and efficient in time management and task completion
3. Accept full responsibility for their actions or non-actions in life and in business
4. They understand that nothing comes without discipline and diligence – they never quit.

Highly motivated. Procrastination is at fault for many business failures, and guess who’s responsible for procrastination? Yep, you guessed it, you and only you. Understand how to use accountability to build success by taking full accountability for your action and non-action.

Learn what drives your motivation to succeed and exploit it. Maybe you want to retire by age 50, pay for your children’s education without going into debt, or pay off your mortgage so you can put more money toward your retirement fund. Whatever the reasons are that drive your motivation, stay connected to them so you can leverage that motivation to avoid procrastination, and keep going until you succeed.

Organized, productive and efficient. Every successful entrepreneur understands that organized and efficient productivity is an essential part of leveraging time and energy. You cannot build a business wasting time or spinning your wheels. You have to learn how to do the most in the least amount of time – and with the least amount of energy. When you integrate accountability into everything you do, there is no finger to point at anyone, but yourself. Taking that responsibility will naturally drive you to put your best efforts forward and keep you organized, productive and efficient.

If you’re truly a procrastinator at heart, you may have to bribe yourself with a reward to get things done. For example, don’t allow yourself to go to lunch until you complete three of the five tasks on your To-Do List. Another example may be to allow yourself to take a three day weekend if you met your goal(s) for the month.

Alternatively, you may have to implement “retraining” yourself for unproductive behavior. For example, say you procrastinated or wasted time and didn’t accomplish your goals for the day, week, or month. To retrain your mind to think in an efficient manner, create a competition with yourself to accomplish a task faster than you have in the past. Use a stopwatch or timer to keep track of your time. The next time you have to do that task, try to beat your old record. Do that each time until you refine the process enough to become highly efficient. Don’t sacrifice quality for doing it faster. You can become quicker and still maintain quality.

Accept full responsibility. Accountability and wealth go hand-in-hand! When you learn how to use accountability to build success, you’ll begin to see just how much power you have in creating your own reality. Set a bit more than realistic goals, yet you want to stretch yourself a little. Say you need to net $4,000 each month for personal expenses and an additional $3,000 for business overhead? If you need to net a total of $7,000 per month, stretch yourself and shoot for a minimum of $10,000 in sales each month.

Throughout the workday, remind yourself that you are the only one responsible for your reality and take full responsibility for your action or non-action. If you do not meet your goals for the month, don’t beat yourself up. Make a list of the actions you took or didn’t take and identify where you can make improvements. Use the experience to learn how to refine your actions for better results next time, and use it to set new goals.

Discipline and diligence. Accountability is a major key to improving discipline and diligence and with that comes improved results. When you understand that the “buck stops here,” accountability suddenly provides a very clear picture that discipline and diligence will produce results. Never, ever quit until you succeed.

It’s up to you to take the actions required to achieve your goals. Successful business owners are disciplined for a reason – it’s because their diligence produces results. You must consistently become your own motivator and cheerleader, although it can be challenging at times to be so.

The truth is for most, when left to our own devices we let too many distractions keep us from the activities we know we need to do and yet don’t do them for whatever it is that’s stopping us. These groups (or coaching) will provide you with support when you need to push through fear or doubt and take action to get the results you desire.

Joining a mastermind or accountability group (or coaching) is vital to your success. As a member of one of a mastermind or accountability group (or coaching client) you will be surrounded by like-minded individual(s) who can hold you accountable for your actions or non-actions. To help you with guidelines of various groups, go to my website and review some ideas to help you get started. You will always need help in evolving and improving your life and business, and accountability is the only way to achieve your goals.

Use Oprah’s Advice to have a Successful Business

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

Oprah Winfrey

I love going to my local Business Women’s Network breakfast meetings. This morning they had a sheet of paper on each table with a heading, and our sheet had “Your top seven tips for achieving success”. Appropriately enough I was sitting with a ‘hall-of-fame’ award winning business owner, and the President of the Business Women’s Network, among others.

I wanted to bring one tip to your attention today, and that is

“Surround yourself with the right people”

It’s not a new concept. In fact it probably dates back to the dawn of time when cave-men surrounded themselves with others who were stronger than them (cave-women of course ;)) Napoleon Hill talks about it in “Think and Grow Rich” written in 1935, particularly in his chapter titled “Step 9 Toward Riches: The Power of the Master Mind”.

The Master Mind is a formalisation of surrounding yourself with the right people. You can literally choose a group of people to meet with on a consistent basis with the focus being on moving each of you forward to a place that would be difficult to reach on your own.

A Master Mind group is one thing, but who you are surrounded by on a day-to-day basis is also indicative of where you are going. If you are surrounded by others who are pessimistic, discouraging and who are what I call “energy-suckers” it is a long hard slog uphill to drag yourself out of the same space. If, on the other hand, you are surrounded by optimistic, encouraging people who inspire you to think bigger than you already are, you will find yourself swept up in the delicious flow of life.

For those of you that are already there – congratulations. I would like to challenge you to raise the bar – just a notch or two – and see where that takes you. For those of you that are looking around you now and aren’t feeling particularly inspired – where do you start?

Here are just a few ways for you to consider:

o Read uplifting books. Surrounding yourself with successful people doesn’t have to mean physically. There are many out there who are ready to show you the way to achieve whatever you desire. Pick a few authors who really resonate with you, and read all you can find. If you aren’t sure where to start, have a look at my links page for a few suggestions.

o Attend your local Business Women’s Network, or Chamber of Commerce meetings. Sometimes this can be tricky with children. If that’s the case, why not start your own. Invite other ‘mumpreneurs’ to a meeting – either at hours that suit you, or perhaps agree to meet at the park or someone’s house. It doesn’t have to be big, just make sure they are the right people.

o Join forums. Look around for a forum that’s active and that has topics that are encouraging, inspiring and challenging. To find a good forum for you do a Google search with a few key words that you are interested in plus ‘forum’ for example “small business forum”.

o Look in your local paper. It may be the community notices section, or it may be an article talking about someone that really catches your eye. If you find someone’s story inspiring, why not ring them and ask them if you can shout them a coffee in exchange for a chat.

o Look out for workshops or seminars in your local area where other ‘happening’ people are likely to go. Don’t just turn up – participate, and really make an effort to make contact with people who interest you. Ask if they would like to meet up again after the event.

o Watch out for teleclasses and virtual workshops too – these may be just the kind of people that you can meet up with again – even if they’re in a different country.

These are just a few ways for you to find the right kind of people to surround yourself with. Don’t forget to include your children in this practice too. Take notice of who there friends are, what books they’re reading and what’s on the TV. Help them to understand this principle of surrounding themselves with the right people (reverse psychology can work wonders here ;))

Leap ‘n’ Bound: Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to ‘notice’ who it is that you are surrounding yourself with, and decide whether they are supporting you, or draining you. Should you decide that you are ready to move up a notch then take decisive action. If you think you need support during this time I encourage you to hire a coach. More than likely, you will find that they have already been through this process at some stage in their life and are ready to show you the way.