Successful business owners and business managers share some core traits. They apply successful business strategies and tactics in order to:
- Deliver the greatest return to their stockholders.
- Meet customer and client demands in the most appropriate ways.
- Enable and encourage the purposeful actions of the motivated individuals and teams whom they employ.
They do these things by adopting, and adapting, the principles and processes of others whom we often call management gurus. Very few things are new, and that includes leadership, management, coaching and motivation. Original thought leaders can be traced back to people we may not immediately consider in the business context, even though business books have been written based on their ideas. Just to take two examples:
Sun-Tzu wrote The Art of War. In it he clarified such things as:
- Strategic deliberation, which included surveying the field (market analysis)
- Application of Force Capabilities (management control and team dynamics)
- The Conduct of Operations (leadership character traits and performance initiatives)
Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince In that book on political theory he reviewed great rulers of the past and looked for reasons that underlay success and failure. He concluded that great leaders, for example:
- Choose wise counselors, not flatterers (listen to those who have already succeeded)
- Undertake great projects so they will enhance their own reputation (business success leads to greater success)
- Maintain the goodwill of the people, since goodwill is stronger than any fortress (when the economy tanks, businesses need loyal employees to fight on)
The 20th century saw business leaders like Alfred Sloan who took General Motors from mediocrity to (at the time) the greatest corporation on earth, and academics like Abraham Maslow who moved between university and business, and developed a theory of motivation which gave us the term ‘hierarchy of needs’.
Successful business owners and managers stand on the shoulders of these original thought leaders. Many current ideas, strategies and processes can be traced back to those original pioneers. In this series, we will share the essence of their work, and suggest simple ways to make use of them.
Best-selling books on business, MBA courses and the school of hard knocks all have their place. This will just be simpler and quicker. We want you to enjoy the series and to benefit from it, if only by reminding yourself about what you, the business leader or product manager, already know.
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