Through my years of interacting with successful business leaders, serial entrepreneurs, and top-level executives, I’ve noticed that many have common sayings or mantras that help guide their leadership philosophies. Here’s a roundup of the top five common sayings that guide my own leadership philosophy. While it is a short list, I believe that if employed can help anyone be a better leader.
1. We play like we practice.
How do you need to practice to be in the elite group of leaders in your field, business, or profession? What are the things that you can do to improve yourself and elevate your level of play? If a kid practices basketball for hours at half of the speed that the game is played, unless he or she is working on their fundamentals, then he or she is not properly preparing for playing at game speed. Over time we will begin to play exactly how we practice. Our practice speed will become our game speed. How well have we practiced for that upcoming meeting? Have we worked diligently on the product, place, price, and promotion for our company? If we have, when it comes to game time, we will be able to perform at a very high level. If we have not, well, it just may be a blow out. We need to know what practice should look like for ourselves, our positions, our groups, our divisions, our companies, and then ensure that we are practicing the right things with game time intensity.
2. Less is more.
Any true professional needs to walk and talk this adage! Most of us, that have been or continue to be in direct selling positions know that we can oversell and lose an already closed deal. Less is more in so many ways. This saying can be true in our product line and offerings, for instance, Google built a very successful enterprise on search. Think about ways to trim the fat when it comes to work and conversations. I can bet my money on it that you would be way more productive with the less is more mantra.
3. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Deep down inside, anyone consuming a proverbial free lunch knows there is a catch. The worse catch is when it costs people their future potential. The real problem with free lunches, is that we become complacent and fail to use our faculties, and then over time, we lose them. We have seen people that were not creating, driving forward, or competing but just eating lunch over and over again. As the markets shift, it will leave those people that don’t know how to fend for themselves lagging behind. Everyone must add value and more value than they consume! Every company must deliver more value than it consumes or it will perish. Successful leaders are acutely weary of free lunches and avoid them like the plague.
4. Those who sling mud are covered in it.
Do you spend your time thinking about how other folks are achieving things while you are lagging or even worse, think about how to bring them down? If so, stop now. Focus on what you can achieve, get in the game and go for it. If you are a mud slinger, you are probably covered in mud yourself. In a business, rather than constantly tiring ourselves by trying to beat our competition, the focus should be on our strengths and core competencies. I am not asking you to be blind to the market, but to identify how your resources will enable you to outperform the market. Take a note from Apple, Tesla or Adobe, these company focus on catering to future markets and making great products rather than only focusing on their competition or current market share.
5. Take it with a grain of salt.
I have learned over time to listen intently to those around me, both near and far, to the best of my ability. Everyone has a perspective that may enhance the direction of a current endeavor that I am focused on. Knowing this, we should listen, be open and malleable, and be able to change. That said, sometimes we have to know when to take a comment with a grain of salt. There are two moments that stand out in my mind for this saying to be a wise proverb. The first is when someone is dowsing your dreams with cold water. Just take it with a grain of salt. The second is when someone is tooting your horn for you. This is the polar opposite, but for me, it has been wise to take that with a grain of salt as well.
While these are some of the more important sayings that I have internalized and use to drive my leadership philosophy and professional performance, they are far from the only ones. What are some of the common sayings that hold meaning for you?
Edwin Miller, the CEO of 9Lenses, is an accomplished four-time CEO recognized as both a growth and a turnaround thought leader. He has proven his skills of leadership, motivation and business model assessment and creation in both both the public and private theaters. He has successfully transformed domestic and international organizations through both organic and acquisitive means. His experience spans many different technological, horizontal and vertical markets.
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!