Successful entrepreneurs often have shared qualities, despite being from different industries. Fortunately, there isn’t just one personality profile that guarantees success, either — what successful entrepreneurs have learned to do is to cultivate certain desirable qualities in their personality that help them and their business succeed.
For some time, many have believed that your personality is largely fixed over your lifetime, but the reality is that it can evolve over the course of your lifetime. According to Psychology Today, some interventions used to enable people to change their personalities could take months. But recent research suggests that even a two-week, smartphone-based intervention may be enough to enhance a specific facet of personality, like self-discipline — at least in the short-term.
What this indicates is that you can increase personality traits that are more advantageous to your growing startup. Read on to learn about three traits found in effective business leaders.
1: Magnetic Vision
Your vision is hyper-critical to your organization’s success — it’s your company’s magnetic north. A strong, powerful vision will empower you and your entire team to engage your respective afterburners when your startup’s momentum is in full swing to multiply your successes. Defensively, your magnetic vision will keep your team focused and faithful to the cause when going through the often unavoidable “Trough of Sorrow” as discussed by Andrew Chen, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a leading Silicon Valley Venture Capital Firm.
Your vision also has positive knock-on effects on other key traits. For example, your clear, driving big-picture goal will naturally raise your team’s level of perseverance and engagement because many people secretly wish to be a “part of something bigger than ourselves.” Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, said during a Harvard commencement address, “that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.” Research has found that “purpose driven” people:
- Are four times more likely to be engaged at work and 50 percent more likely to be a leader and have 64 percent higher level of career satisfaction.
- Earn a higher income and have a higher net worth.
- Enjoy a 42 percent more contentment overall and live up to 7 years longer.
Take time to clarify your vision. Then place it in the heart of everything your company does. And drill it into your team every day until it goes full circle and they begin to remind you of your company’s big picture mission.
As a startup co-founder, you’ll be facing streams to tidal waves of problems, questions and dilemmas. To make things even more interesting, each one of those problem sets can seem like they have the power to make or break your business. Being decisive is invaluable to making sound judgements under immense pressure. Because you’re responsible for guiding your company’s success trajectory, this will require you to make difficult decisions and stand by them.
Being decisive doesn’t mean having all the answers. Collaborate with your trusted advisors, strategic partners and favorite customers to gather the necessary data and insights your team needs to tackle challenging problems. Involve your key team members in some of your big decisions to bring multiple, salient points of view and stimulate creative problem-solving.
As a bonus, in considering others’ perspectives on how to approach and overcome specific challenges you can become more aware of your own implicit biases and lead your team with a higher degree of emotional intelligence.
“One yes must be defended by 1,000 ‘nos,’” wrote Gary Keller, founder and chairman of the board for Keller Williams Realty, the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count, and Jay Papasan, co-authors of “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.” Keller’s book does a great job of hammering home the importance of single-minded focus. One of the biggest challenges in staying focused is to not get seduced by many other seemingly important tasks we could be doing instead of dedicating uninterrupted blocks of time to your single-most important activity in terms of largest impact to your vision and bottom-line. You can help identify your company’s single-most important activity with Keller’s focusing question:
“What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Deliberate focus on your most important — not just time-sensitive — tasks and projects is critical to your startup’s success. Ironically, it can feel painful and limiting because you’re narrowing the activities you do at any given time, but strong focus brings you greater success over time.
Don’t be a slave to your to-do list. While most of these lists serve as a useful collection of your best intentions, they often tyrannize you with trivial, unimportant tasks that you feel obligated to get done simply because it’s on your list. Focus on your company’s most impactful activities, tasks and goals.
There’s no such thing as a profile for a perfect entrepreneur, though certain characteristics are more likely to be present in successful business leaders. Take inventory of your own positive traits and skill sets, then see how it aligns with your vision or startup’s success trajectory. By developing the qualities of a successful entrepreneur that most resonate with you, you in turn will be crafting your own personality profile that takes your company from good to great.
Marty Aquino has been a passionate writer on venture capital, technology, forecasting, risk mitigation, wealth and entrepreneurial topics since 2009. He is the founder of Carbonwolf Energy, a venture-capital firm specializing in world-changing and status-quo-defying technologies and people.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce – 10 Characteristics of a Successful Business
Psychology Today – New Research Shows 2-Week Intervention May Change Personality
Gallup-Healthways – State of Global Well-Being
Harvard Business Review – 5 Key Decision-Making Techniques for Managers
Harvard Business Review – Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: Why It’s Important
The ONE Thing – The ONE Thing
The ONE Thing – The Gut Check: Applying Your Purpose to the Focusing Question
McKinsey – How incumbents scale up their new businesses