Also outstanding career advice
Last April, I shared a composite of insights that Jason Jennings and his associates accumulated during their research on more than 70,000 companies, using criteria that are far more demanding than those used by others (e.g. Jim Collins). The results suggest that the highest-performing companies (i.e. among the top one-hundredth of 1% of all U.S. companies) have ten “building blocks.”
Given the current unemployment rate, additional lay-offs that are imminent, and competition is ferocious for the few positions that are being filled, the careers of individuals need the same “building blocks.”
I know of no one else who possesses more and better business wisdom than does Jason Jennings. Be sure to read his various books, especially Think Big Act Small: How America’s Best Performing Companies Keep the Start-up Spirit Alive and Hit the Ground Running: A Manual for New Leaders, both published by Portfolio/The Penguin Group.
1. Down to Earth: Modesty and humility in word and manner are most appropriate. Outstanding performance attracts attention (not self-promotion) and speaks volumes, silently but effectively. Those with the
healthiest egos have emotional intelligence (e.g. they consider it a privilege to serve others).
2. Keep Your Hands Dirty: Volunteer for the most unpleasant tasks, offer assistance to colleagues in need of it, share credit with others. Occupy the “trenches” and you control the “battlefield.”
3. Make Short-Term Goals and Long-Term Horizons: Often, progress consists of a series of “baby steps” to achieve an especially ambitious goal. The same is true of barrier removal during change initiatives. Generate momentum with incremental success.
4. Let Go: As Jennings suggests, “If it’s DOA, bury it.” Learn from the past but don’t let your mind dwell there. Grow, reach, stretch, stumble, get up, but keep moving in the right direction.
5. Think and Act Like an Owner: Take a proprietary interest in your organization. Eliminate waste (especially wasting time), focus on what’s most important rather than on what’s urgent, and be a builder rather than a spectator.
6. Invent New Businesses: Be constantly alert to what can be improved, what can be used in new ways, what can succeed in new markets with different customers. The #1 competitor? Who you are today and what your organization is today? Constantly improve or deteriorate and eventually….
7. Create Win-Win Situations: This strategy is especially important during negotiations and also applies to relations with competitors as well as with customers. Respect others’ rights; indeed, when necessary, protect and defend them.
8. Choose Your Competitors: Both organizations and individuals should know who they are…and who they aren’t. Leverage strengths. Know “when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.” And also know when to be bold, to be aggressive. Keep in mind that competitors are not enemies and these days, some competitors may soon become strategic allies.
9. Build Communities: Establish and nourish relationships with others by earning their respect for your expertise, then their respect for your character, and finally their appreciation of being associated with you.
10. Grow Future Leaders: Be unconditionally generous with the information, knowledge, and wisdom you possess as well as skills and techniques that will help others to success. Measure your own success in terms of the nature and extent of how well you collaborate with others on their success.
In addition to Think Big Act Small and Hit the Ground Running: A Manual for New Leaders, I also highly recommend Arlene Johnson’s Success Mapping: Achieve What You Want…Right Now!
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