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What It Takes to Become an Exemplary Business Leader

Brian Cristiano Jan 11, 2022

Are you tired of hearing that all it takes to become a successful business leader is just hard work?

If so, then not only are you not alone, but you're also completely justified in your frustration.

While you certainly need to work hard to become an exemplary leader, it takes more than just that.  

Think about it... You could be waking up and pounding the pavement everyday, but if you're not working on the right things or even happy doing what you're doing, then it all goes to waste!

That being said, we're sharing a guide on what it takes to become an exemplary business leader beyond just hard work.

The simple key to the guide is this: When you as a business owner improve yourself, you inevitably improve your business.  Moreover, self-improvement is business improvement!

Wherever you're at in your own business journey, follow this guide to become the best version of yourself.  You know what your potential is, now you just need to take action.

How much longer will you wait to become your best self?

 

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Unlock a Leadership Mindset

 

You can have the best product or service in the world, the greatest sales strategy, and the most powerful board of directors on your side, but if you as the CEO of your company don't have the right mindset, then none of it matters.

By the right mindset, we mean a leadership mindset that lays the entire foundation for a high-potential business to flourish.

By definition, mindset is the accumulation of the thoughts you think, and here's why it's so crucial for success: The thoughts you think determine the emotions you feel.  The emotions you feel determine the actions you take.  The actions you take determine your business outcomes.

Therefore, successful business leaders are hyper aware of the thoughts they think, because their thoughts ultimately determine their outcomes.

On a day-to-day basis, successful business leaders assess the condition of their mindset.  They do so by becoming conscious of the thoughts they think to themself.

If they realize that they're thinking negative thoughts, they'll actively choose to exchange that negative thought with a more positive one.

For example, if a CEO catches themself thinking something like, 'It's impossible for me to land that business deal!' they'll exchange that thought with something like, 'Someone is going to land that business deal, so why not me and my company?'.

Unlocking a leadership mindset is about unlocking the potential of your thoughts.  Because at the end of the day, the thoughts you think can either be your best friend or worst enemy.

 

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Take Full Accountability

 

While there is a lot of nuance to the world, you can generally classify people as having one of two mindsets, including:

  1. The victim mindset
  2. The accountable mindset

First off, people with a victim mindset see themselves as victims to their circumstances.  Whenever they face challenging circumstances, they typically see them as a threat rather than an opportunity.

For example, if sales slow down, people with a victim mindset will blame everyone and everything before blaming themselves.  On top of that, they'll see the challenge as something they need to wage battle against because it's working against them.

On the other hand, people with an accountable mindset see themselves as the solution to their circumstances.  Whenever they face challenging circumstances, they see it as an opportunity to be better.

For example, if sales slow down, people with an accountable mindset ask themselves whether or not their own actions played a role in the results.  Then, they chose to see the challenge as an opportunity for them to become even better.

Moreover, great leaders accept full responsibility for themselves and their outcomes.  On top of that, they see the world as working for them, not against them.

If you want to join the leagues of influential business leaders like Bob Iger and Larry Page, then you need to not only take accountability for yourself and your business, but you also need to learn to see yourself as the solution to challenges, not a victim to circumstances.

 

Think Bigger to Do Bigger

 

When you look at CEOs like Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, it's sometimes mind-boggling to think about the impact he's made on the business world and world at large in only a matter of a few years.

But the truth is that the formula that got Elon Musk to where he is today is really quite simple: He thinks bigger than everyone else and isn't ashamed to tell everyone about his big visions, even if they criticize him for them!

Because he thinks bigger than most other people, he has those positive internal emotions brewing that push him to take major action.  And even though he sometimes gets criticism for it, he still moves forward.

That being said, if you want big outcomes, you MUST think big thoughts.  You can't get big outcomes without first thinking big thoughts, because thoughts are the precursor to action.

The next time you say to yourself, 'Maybe it's not working out because I'm thinking too big', ask yourself if maybe the reason it isn't working out is because you aren't thinking big enough!

Big visions require big actions, and nobody ever takes big actions while thinking small.

 

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Do the Thing That You Do Best

 

It's easy to see why business legends like Walt Disney are legends... It's because they simply do the thing that they’re most passionate about!  

Disney never let bankruptcy stand in his way because he knew the thing that he was good at and was relentless to build a business based on that passion.

That being said, if you're not building a business based on something that sparks a fire inside of you, then you're not headed in the right direction.  Unless the thing that you're doing lights that fire, then it's nearly impossible to achieve success.

Why?

Because when challenges arise (as they certainly will), it's extremely difficult to keep pushing forward when you aren't passionate about what you're doing.

For example, co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs was relentless in his pursuit of Apple despite having to sleep on the floor of his friend's apartments and sell Coke bottles for 5 cents a piece for several years.  

Had he not been so passionate about what he was doing, don't you think he likely would have given up?

That being said, you will certainly face challenges on your business journey.  And in order to overcome those challenges, you need to be doing the thing that you're passionate about!

 

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Empowerment & Education

 

How many business and leadership books have you read before? Five...?  Ten...?  Fifty...?

Regardless of how many books you've read, business school classes you've taken, or leadership podcasts you've listened to, it doesn't necessarily matter.

Why?

Because, most business and leadership-oriented books, classes, and podcasts are simply in the business of teaching you information and skills.  

And while it’s great to have information and skills, the problem is that those same sources don’t usually teach you how to apply the information and skills.

That being said, what good is having a lot of information and skills if you don't know what to do with it?  The answer is... It is no good!

Therefore, in order to become an exemplary business leader, you need to not just have an education, but to also be empowered.

What does it mean to be empowered?

To be empowered means to know how to apply your skills and knowledge to everyday business scenarios.  It's about having the power to step-up and take action to solve problems on a daily basis.  

And when it comes to becoming a great business leader, you need education and empowerment in three key areas, including:

  1. Sales success
  2. Business and sales strategy
  3. Leadership development

Many people have education, but there aren't many people with both education and empowerment.  Business leadership requires both!

 

Investments In Yourself Are Investments In Your Business

 

Before going any further, we need to make one thing clear: When you invest in your own self-improvement, you invest in your business's improvement!

Think of it like this... Your business is a reflection of you, the CEO.  Therefore, when you're in great shape, your business will inevitably be in great shape.

That being said, when you focus on your own self-improvement, those positive effects will inevitably trickle down into your business.

Self-improvement is business improvement.

Therefore, make investments in your personal education and empowerment to become a better business leader and have your business thrive.

 

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Nail Your Sales Process

 

What is the single most important factor to business success after having a leadership mindset?  

Simple, it's strong sales performance.

Whatever challenge your business is facing, having a better and stronger sales department can probably solve it!  

Think about it... Need more money to hire a chief operating officer?  Make more sales.  Want to expand to new markets to help serve more people?  Make more sales.

Not to mention that having better sales processes is the key to long-term, sustainable business growth.  And… more business growth = more people served = a greater impact made = a better leader you are.

For example, consider founder and CEO of Nike, Phil Knight, for a moment... The more sales he makes, the more people he serves and the greater leader he becomes.  

That being said, if you want to become a better leader, you need to serve more people.  And, the way that you serve more people is by simply improving your sales processes to increase sales made.

To become an effective business leader, you need to educate yourself on what it takes to improve sales processes and empower yourself to put those methods to work.

The best way to do that is a top-tier sales training program!

 

Gain Strategic Intelligence

 

The key to having strong sales processes and serving more people is understanding your target market inside and out.

When you understand your ideal customers, you know:

  • What their tactical pain points are
  • What their emotional needs are
  • What their psychological decision-making process looks like

First off, you obviously need to know exactly what your target audience is struggling with on a surface level.  Whether it be with SEO or supply chain management, their tactical needs are usually pretty obvious.

Second, your customers make buying decisions based on emotions, therefore it's crucial to understand how you can appeal to those emotions to get them to purchase your deliverable.

Lastly, understanding how your customers psychologically come to make purchasing decisions gives you instant power, because it allows you to frame your sales pitches in a way that appeals to them the most. 

A great example of someone who understands his target audience inside and out is the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.

He realizes what his target audience wants: Instant gratification.  The way he delivers instant gratification... Offering an abundance of products from a computer screen that in most cases can be delivered in a matter of hours.

Another great example is CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings.  He realizes that his target audience also wants instant gratification, and he delivers that by offering 24/7 access to an abundance of movies and TV shows from a computer screen.

Furthermore, do as Bezos and Hastings have by diving deep into your target audience.  The deeper you dive, the better you serve, and the more effective a leader you become.

 

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Develop Your Unique Leadership Style

 

What makes a business leader special is that they stay true to themselves.

Despite the fact that they have enormous responsibilities, top business leaders don't try to conform to some cookie-cutter leadership style.  Instead, they focus on developing and drawing out their own authentic leadership traits that are unique to who they are.

Sure, there are certain leadership traits that every leader needs to have, such as pristine listening skills, but that doesn't mean that they morph who they are as individuals.

Therefore, to be an exemplary leader, you need to focus less on becoming a person who you aren't and more on developing your own unique leadership style.

If at any point you don't feel like you're being true to yourself, then you’re crushing your leadership potential. 

 

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Find Your Mastermind Group

 

So, you've got your mindset in the green and have equipped yourself with the education and empowerment you need to take effective action.

What comes next?

The truth is that no high-achieving leader accomplishes their goals alone.  Instead, they have back-up from other high-achieving leaders.

Also commonly referred to as a Mastermind Group, that backup group helps play a couple of key roles, including:

  • Helping keep motivation high
  • Offering unique perspectives and insights
  • Offering strategic expertise where it's needed

The whole solopreneur thing will only take you so far.  You must find people who will help keep you in check as a leader.

By people who will keep you in check, we mean people that will help bring you up to a higher level, rather than allow you to fall down into the depths.

As CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett once said, 'It's better to hang out with people better than you.  Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you'll drift in that direction'.

 

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Keep the Motivation High By Helping Others

 

One of the most common challenges that business leaders and people in general face is low motivation. 

As a result, more people than ever want to know what it takes to boost their motivation on a day-to-day basis.

This is where being part of a group of other high-achieving business leaders comes and handy!  When you're a part of a group of people who are all leaning on one another for support, offering help to other people is perhaps the single-best way to boost your own motivation.

There's a reason why there is a saying that goes... If you can't help yourself, help someone else!

When you offer to help someone else, that generosity comes back around to light a fire underneath you.  While you may have been struggling before, helping someone else be better can give you the exact motivational boost that you need.

In the end, helping others is about helping yourself, too.

 

Take Advantage of CEO Coaching

 

There is no better person to give you insider-level business advice than a top CEO Coach.

As a current or former business executive themself, what makes a coach an ideal person to help you become a better leader is that they've stood in your exact shoes before.  

Before they became a coach and leader themself, they needed to overcome the trials and tribulations that you're currently going through now!

Moreover, coaches are ideal sources of strategic knowledge because they have expertise from first-hand experiences.

Hey... If business leaders including Tim Cook of Apple, Larry Page of Google, and Bill Gates of Microsoft have all taken advantage of CEO coaching, then that must count for something... right?

 

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Commit to Continuous Improvement

 

The path to becoming an exemplary business leader never ends.  By that, we mean that becoming a business leader isn't a matter of saying... 'Ok, I'm finally a high-achieving leader, so I'm checking out now'.

To put it more simply, becoming an exemplary leader isn't about checking a box and saying you've done it!  Rather it's a life-long process of continuous improvement.

Therefore, as you work to become a better leader, realize that there's always going to be something new to learn and another improvement to make.  If you close yourself off to learning, it's only inevitable that you'll stagnate and eventually fall down.

Not only that, but you need to realize that there's never going to be a point where you know it all.  And if you think you do know it all, then you're only kidding yourself.

Choosing the business leadership path in life is about making a commitment to continuously improve yourself.  Do you accept the challenge?

 

Learn and Change As You Go

 

There isn't a single business owner, president, vice president, or board member out there who knows exactly what they're doing.  As much as they may look like they know it all, the truth is that they don't.

However, the difference between the people who become leaders and the people who never make it off the sidelines is that the people who are leaders choose to start despite understanding that they don’t know it all.

In fact, the most common excuse people give for why they're not taking action is along the lines of, 'I'll start when I'm ready' or 'When this tough time ends then I'll start'.

We've all heard those excuses before, and it's extremely rare that the people who make them ever get moving! 

So, the key to becoming a leader is starting despite knowing that you don't know it all.  Then, it's about learning and growing throughout your business journey.

There will never be a right time and you'll never know it all, so you might as well get moving now.

 

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Grow AND Be Fulfilled

 

At the end of the day, none of this matters if what you're currently doing isn't making you feel fulfilled... It's as simple as that.  

In fact, if you currently aren’t feeling fulfilled, you’d be a better leader by stopping what you’re doing and switching paths instead of carrying on as business as usual!

Our time here is limited, therefore you shouldn't waste it.

Not only that, but rarely do people who aren't fulfilled ever become an exemplary leader.  

So if you've made it this far and know that you aren't fulfilled, the best thing you can do for yourself is stop what you're doing and find the thing that lights a special fire inside of you.

In case you didn't know, life is supposed to be fun!  The best transformation you can make in life isn't becoming an exemplary business leader, but becoming the most fulfilled version of yourself.

 

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Final Thoughts On What You Have to Do to Be a Good Business Leader

 

Self-improvement is business improvement!

If you use this guide to help yourself become a better leader, you'll inevitably become a better person.  And when you become a better person, your business improves right along with you.

On the other hand, if you let all your potential go to waste by choosing not to step up to the plate, then don't expect to get the kind of business results you want.

At the end of the day, there will be people who become the kind of leader they aspire to be, and then there will be people who don't.  Why shouldn't you be the person who becomes the leader they dream about being?  If somebody is going to win, why shouldn’t it be you?