Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.

Managers make sure the trees are cut down efficiently so that the road can be completed. The leader makes sure that the right trees are cut down so that the road is built in the right direction.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet with many successful businessmen and women. It has given me the opportunity to learn about their success. I can’t remember even one individual who achieved their success without dealing with failure or adversity.

Some people may think that these individuals have certain secrets for their success. The secret to their success is that there are no secrets. My experience is that they are perfectly willing to share their journey, successes and failures, and divulge the details.

With a twinkle in their eye, they might say that their secret is “I always wear a blue suit to business meetings” or “I always keep a $100 bill in my wallet.” But when they look you in the eye, they’ll say, “I focused on my goal, I never quit learning, I surrounded myself with a team smarter than me, and I never quit.”

In the autobiographies of Sam Walton, Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Col Sanders and other well-known successful men and women, the common theme in very diverse businesses is:

  1. All had successes and failures
  2. All focused and never quit
  3. All developed themselves on the way to their success.
  4. As they became more successful, they became more accessible.

It was interesting to find that as they became more successful, they reached out to colleagues, staff and employees, community and society. Unfortunately, giving tangible gifts such as bonuses, scholarships, charitable contributions were expected and often unappreciated by some people. Even our government feels it should tax success. But the most valuable gift that anyone, including our government, can receive from these individuals is their knowledge and wisdom. It is a vast reservoir of human intelligence…a natural human resource.

My father told me over and over to get a good education. He said, “Never stop learning. What you keep in your brain, no one can take from you…and your brain will outlast your back.”

Isn’t it interesting that we retire our most talented people, those who have knowledge and wisdom, even if their backs may have failed, when they have the most experience. I’m not suggesting that we raise the retirement age but I do think we are losing valuable human capital.

I love to sit around at the country club after a round of golf and just listen to my friends talk business, politics, family and their PSA level. There is so much wisdom that forms the basis for every debate and conclusion. I suggest that we create a forum in order to listen and learn. The country club is not the best forum and most people don’t want to hear about their PSA levels.

The more successful, the more accessible. Here are some consistent traits that I have found in my association with successful business men and women.

Leaders know themselves…they are humble but tenacious.

Leaders know how to follow.

Leaders seek solutions…anticipate problems.

Leaders continue to learn…from other’s experience and their own mistakes.

Leaders build relationships.

Leaders inspire people to become successful.

Leaders motivate.

Leaders surround themselves with people who know…then they listen.

Leaders have the best view from the top…but depend on many to hold the ladder.

Leaders don’t quit…they see obstacles as detours not barriers.

In the book, “It’s Not What I Know…It’s How I Learned It,” leaders come to the front to teach, help and inspire. They are out front. They are accessible. Those who can’t lead and can’t follow, focus on stopping progress and preventing success in others. They are like the crabs in a bucket. They want you to get ahead, so long as it is not ahead of them.

To start, grow and stay in business, you must be the leader. All businesses start small. You don’t have to know everything to get started but you must be willing to learn, and learn, and learn. Reach out to successful people around you. They are accessible because they are successful.

Make it a great day

Dr L