Newsletter 06/2018: 5 Traits Of Successful Leaders & Entrepreneurs

By Srinivasan R, Management Consultant at Independent Consultant, February 19, 2018

Successful leaders and entrepreneurs are people with enormous drive and an intrinsic confidence in their ability to achieve their goals.  Undoubtedly, the need to achieve goals makes them very goal oriented.  However, focusing on the goal alone is not enough to make them successful.

Successful leaders and entrepreneurs tend to accept the challenge in accomplishing their goals and enjoy doing what it takes to overcome them.

Interestingly, when it comes to your work your journey becomes primarily destination oriented.  You are forever focused on your next milestone be it a promotion or a raise or a fancier designation or an altogether new job.

And, it doesn’t end there.

No sooner you achieve one goal your focus shifts to the next one. Quite often you derive very little enjoyment and satisfaction from achieving a goal that has captured your imagination and dominated your thoughts and efforts for years.

More often than not, it’s an empty feeling that triggers a question- ‘What next?’

When you are focused on the result you derive very little satisfaction from the process. So much so that the entire process of putting efforts may turn into a huge drudgery because you don’t identify with it.  For you, all that it constitutes is a necessary pain that you need to endure.

For instance, if you are involved in project management and are pursuing a PMP certification. Your primary focus could be on how to get the certification quickly with the least effort and disruption to your work routine.

The fact that you have an opportunity to learn, becomes incidental.

This is where successful leaders and entrepreneurs operate differently.

  1. They focus on doing what needs to be done instead of worrying about outcomes

Outcomes may take time to show.

If you are nurturing a startup you need to be careful about how much you spend and what you spend your money on initially, until you are stable. Losing track of this component could derail your finances and land you into financial problems.

A typical businessman may find himself straitjacketed with all these restrictions on spending but a successful leader or entrepreneur would take pleasure in finding ways to optimize spending innovatively, without compromising outcomes.

The fact is when you enjoy your journey in your pursuit of a bigger goal, your efforts become more focused and are more likely to yield results.

  1. They enjoy doing what it takes, to achieve what they want

Think about it!

If you are an entrepreneur and you are not only completely risk averse but also detest uncertainty, do you really have a fair chance of succeeding at your endeavors?

While this may be an extreme example, the fact remains- you don’t always enjoy what you need to do to achieve some of your most desired goals.

If you want to be an expert in your field, you need to spend significant amount of time acquiring knowledge and experience in it. On the other hand, if you want to be an expert but don’t want to commit your time you are fighting a losing battle for sure.

Enjoying what you do or learning to enjoy what you need to do (if you don’t enjoy it to begin with) could help you significantly in powering your success.

  1. They focus on giving rather than taking

If you are doing something focused only on what it could give you, your focus could be very polarized and narrow.

A typical example of this could be to take up a job that you know you are not suited to and don’t like, just because the compensation is good. The thrill of an attractive compensation is gone before you know it.

After that, what you are left with is a lot of drudgery that you may find painful to endure.  Besides your performance itself may be sub optimal.

On the other hand if you take a job based on what you can contribute or where you can add significant value you are now benefitting not only yourself but also the organization that you are joining. You will find that adding value to the position that you have accepted, fast tracks your own career also.

  1. They look at the bigger picture

People who accomplish a lot seldom do so by focusing on nitty-gritty. They do it by looking at the bigger picture. There is no denying that you have to get into details at times. However, that cannot be the mainstay of your work.

Elon Musk has experienced several failures to the extent of being in a position where his company itself was on the verge of failing. Despite that, he has emerged strong from all of this by focusing on the big picture and never doubting his own ability to achieve his goals.

Whatever else Musk has been criticized for, even his staunch detractors cannot accuse him of dreaming small.

Take a look at this business plan for SpaceX and you will have an idea of the grandeur of his dreams.

Take for instance, his dream to transform all cars into electric cars or to colonize Mars, nothing about it is small by any stretch of imagination. By focusing on the big picture, Musk has added remarkable achievements to his credit.

  1. They try to make the world a better place to live in

Richard Branson is known as a highly diversified entrepreneur credited with developing over 100 brands.

Branson says that he starts a business only if it will improve people’s lives. He was unhappy with the customer service he was getting from British Airways, so he started a new airline, Virgin Atlantic, which is focused on the customer.

Successful leaders and entrepreneurs focus on fulfilling peoples’ needs in one way or the other. In doing so they make the world a better place to live in. Their focus is seldom on doing things for themselves. Invariably their efforts are focused on doing things that benefit a lot of people. In doing so they create tremendous value.

The fact that they create wealth is purely incidental to their pursuits.

You need to go beyond yourself to succeed as a leader or an entrepreneur. As the saying goes.

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a pretty small package.” John Ruskin

About the Author: Srinivasan is an independent consultant working in the area of strategy and technology interventions in the public sector domain. He has worked in companies like IBM and TCS and has over 30 years of experience spanning 24 countries.

* This article originally appeared on

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