Preparing for the Future, Part 4

L. Douglas Mault

November 2009

In this fourth and final article of this series, we’ll look at some of the dominant behavioral characteristics of successful owners and managers.

Clear sense of purpose. If you don’t have a clear vision, what will be clear is that the team won’t have one either. It is critical that, before work begins, the purpose is not only clear but has been shared widely and in a timely manner.

Persistence. When all else fails, persistence will often prevail. If you stay focused on the goals and the process and refuse to surrender to circumstances, the team will likely succeed.

Providing leadership by seeking out opportunities, by providing those opportunities to the team, by providing the proper tools, and by eliminating excuses.

Anticipating potential conflicts, whether between people or with other organizations. When possible, eliminate the source(s) of conflict before anything arises or, if they cannot be eliminated, takes immediate action to mitigate the conflict.

Self-knowledge. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Polonius says to his son, Laertes: "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

So, good owners and managers understand their own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of their colleagues and employees. This allows skills and abilities to be matched to the task(s) at hand, which allows for greater efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. Since we all have weaknesses, we should first seek self-improvement and then, improvement of employees. Lead by accepting the principle of constant learning and exhibiting enthusiasm for work.

Emotional maturity is shown by accepting people as they are, not as they "ought” to be. This doesn’t mean you accept people who don’t perform or learn or work together; rather it means that it is difficult to change people, and efforts in that direction are typically futile. On the other hand, people aren’t taken for granted. As mentioned in earlier articles, you must recognize and reward a job well done.

Risk-taking, but not foolhardy. You take reasonable risks by being attracted to new ideas and innovation, by being willing to experiment with resources, by taking a chance and trusting new people and by not being afraid of failure.

People should see failure simply as a temporary setback and as a means to a successful end. If you’ve never failed as an owner or manger, then you’ve never really tried. Learn from mistakes, show others that you have done so, and you’ll receive more trust and loyalty in return.

A good "follower” in that to be successful you must follow and be focused on the needs of the customer, the company and the employee. The priorities may change from day to day but all three subjects of that focus—customer, company and employee—are intertwined and must always be considered.

The future belongs to those who prepare and dare.

L. Douglas Mault is president of Executive Advisory Institute, Portland, Ore. The Web site is www.consulteai.com; he can be reached at (888) 428.3331.