18 Things Strong Businesses Do

Too many times CEOs and business leaders separate overarching principles of life from how they run their businesses.  I don’t see it that way.  The very same principles we use for personal development and parenting apply directly to how we approach our business lives and working with co-workers.   Refer to the picture above that lists 18 things that strong people do.  Let’s take that same list and apply it to business.
  • They reflect on progress
    • An essential part of any corporate culture is knowing where we came from and what got us here. We know that a part of employee engagement is having a strong belief in what we do and work for.  It’s important for businesses to articulate a solid message and establish corporate culture. This also speaks to investing in excellent market knowledge and a deep insight into the business sectors you operate in.
  • They tolerate discomfort
    • Business is not for the faint of heart. It can be challenging to lead departments, divisions, and companies.  You will never be liked or respected 100% of the time. Many times you will make unpopular decisions.  As an effective business leader you will need to be able to tolerate immense levels of discomfort at certain times in your career.
  • They think productively
    • How do we know how a business thinks? We look at the internal process within it’s communication network.  How do the leaders work together? Are they productive with each other or is there so much personal competition that no one trusts one another? Is everyone too afraid of the VP’s to ever really tell them the truth?  That is not a productive environment.  Can your internal processes tolerate the truth, healthy conflict, and innovation?  If this is true about your company then it is well on it’s way to communicating productively.
    • They expend their mental energy wisely
      • Have solid discipline on what issues you choose to get involved in.  All corporations have politics mixed with personal ambition. It can create some of the most challenging and competitive environments anyone can imagine.  Successful navigation is based on picking your battles wisely. You will not be able to fix everything that is broken based on a myriad of details.
    • They evaluate their core beliefs
      • Business leaders need to be able to look at themselves in the mirror each morning and feel that their choices are leading the company in a positive direction. They have to have a set of core beliefs that consistently drive the choices they make on a daily basis.  These are the small steps that will lead to the ultimate destination or goal.
    • They have staying power
      • These businesses have established effective brand loyalty and operate under efficient monetary policies.  In many ways, this is the most desirable characteristic on the list.  The ability to remain present and competitive in your market segment is the desire of some of the best businesses.
    • They are prepared to work and succeed on their own merits
      • Is your company’s leadership accessible and known by the employees? Do they feel that you know them, or is there a sense that the executive team is untouchable and beyond reproach?  I think the latter is often times seen as the old school paradigm.  Businesses of the future will need to have leaders than can stand on their own merits and be good personal communicators as well as inspirational.
    • They enjoy their time alone
      • Is your business actively involved in developing its talent pool? Do you develop the potential leaders in your midst?  Fostering growth and development within your company is one of the wisest investments you can make that pays dividends on multiple fronts.  While boosting employee engagement, career development can also help identify tomorrow’s leaders by giving them opportunities to flex their muscle in relatively safe business scenarios.
    • They are willing to fail
      • We know that some of the most successful entrepreneurs are on the cutting edge of where the market is headed.  This can be a very risky place to be, and just as many fail as succeed on any given day.  Are you willing to fail?  Is your business playing so safe to survive that they are no longer relevant?  Safety certainly has its time and place in business, but it’s usually not for an extended period of time and never a consistent business strategy for the movers and shakers.
    • They celebrate other people’s success
      • Does your company foster an environment of productive excellence?  One that promotes competition but not at the cost of the human relationships that make the business function?  We need to be able to recognize accomplishments and have that energize us to achieve.  This kind attitude can be contagious but it must start at the top.  People are recognized for the ideas and given credit for what they bring.
    • They accept full responsibility for their past behavior
      • Is your leadership accountable?  Do they promote personal accountability?  Or is there an environment of survival and passing the buck?  On a personal level no one wants to lose their job, but the lack of accountability can be pervasive within a company if the leadership is not also subjected to the same thing.  Ultimately, the assurance of accountability is what drives good decision making in the moment, rather than damage control after the fact.
    • They invest energy in the present
      • How effective is your company’s leadership team at managing the day to day?  Is the team incentivized to be micromanagers or are they hands off types?  Both of these can have positive and negative consequences in all types of areas.  Ideally, effective leaders approach the day to day with a blended approach where the situation dictates what kind approach will work best.  Managing the day to day requires your front line managers to have good coaching and communication skills.
    • They are willing to take calculated risks
      • Is your business taking the right kind of risks? Are you leveraged too much and cannot weather a period of loss or failure successfully?  Risk taking is certainly essential within the global business climate, but excessive risk is dangerous.  This can leverage the careers of your employees, and the ultimate viability of the business itself.  All leaders need to be effective at balancing risk and choose the path that yields long-term growth.
    • They are kind
      • Can businesses be kind? Of course they can.  In many ways the alternative fuel market is trying to be kind to the planet.  We can be kind to our customers by investing in effective internal processes and producing good high quality products.  We can be kind to our employees by creating a positive work environment, fostering ways to reduce stress and promote wellness.  This one is probably the easiest to integrate into most segments of our businesses, and it’s the one that is most directly related to a personal characteristic as well.
    • They stay happy
      • Can your business sustain itself through the tough times?  Can you maintain a positive attitude even when you are under scrutiny?  Every business has regulatory, finance, and ethical pressures.  Are you able to maintain a positive approach in the midst of dealing with these tough pressures?  The ability to stay positive can say a lot about the leadership team.
    • They embrace change
      • Constant change is the only thing that is guaranteed not to change.  So many things can change on any given day.  The government, stock market, fiscal climate, natural disasters, and so many other things can present our businesses with obstacles and opportunities.  Rarely is a change only a challenge, rather it almost always presents an opportunity to someone even if it’s only because of their unique way of solving the problem.  We must embrace change, especially in this exponentially changing global tech driven market.
    • They keep control
      • Strategic long range planning is one of the best ways to create the semblance of control, which is the ability to anticipate the inevitable uncontrollable events effectively.   When your leadership is involved with maintaining an effective long-range plan and also maintaining that plan on a regular basis, several things happen.  The team is in alignment and communicating about the plan frequently.  They also understand all of the background discussion that went into the critical discussions and decisions and have the ability to handle the small issues in their world using the same priorities.
    • They move on
      • Forward thinking and avoiding “status quo” thinking can be easier said than done.  It’s the rare business that truly tolerates, let alone, promotes an environment of innovation.  Business leaders can foster this kind of thinking in themselves, but fail to create an environment that promotes this kind of thinking in their employees.  When you examine the sectors of the market that are the fastest growing and will be the most relevant in the future, they clearly are focused on innovation.