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The Best Advice on Being a Business Leader

Part 1: Top Business Leaders Share Their Best Advice

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Fortune magazine once published an article entitled "The Best Advice I Ever Got". It was a great article that offered wit and wisdom about achieving business success. I liked it so much, that it motivated me to produce my book, Leadership: Best Advice I Ever Got, which describes the best advice 136 successful CEOs, coaches, consultants, professors, managers, executives, presidents, politicians, and religious leaders received that most helped them become effective and successful business leaders.

Here is their best advice.

1. A leader makes things happen.

If you want to make something happen with your life - in school, in your profession or in your community, do it. Perceived obstacles crumble against persistent desire.

John Baldoni, Author, Leadership Communication Consultant and Founder of Baldoni Consulting LLC, shared this advice that had come from his father, a physician. He taught him the value of persistence. At the same time, his mother taught him compassion for others. Therefore, persistence for your cause should not be gained at the expense of others. Another bit of leadership wisdom!

2. Listen and understand the issue, then lead.

Time and time again we have all been told, "God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason"... or as Stephen Covey said, "Seek to understand, rather than be understood." As a business leader, listening first to the issue, then trying to coach, has been the most valuable advice that Cordia Harrington, President and CEO of Tennessee Bun Company has been given.

3. A successful business leader can answer the three questions everyone within his or her organization wants answers to.

What the people of an organization want from their leader are answers to the following: "Where are we going?" "How are we going to get there?" "What is my role?" Kevin Nolan, President & Chief Executive Officer of Affinity Health Systems, Inc. believes the more clarity that can be added to the answers to each of the three questions, the better the result.

4. Successful business leaders need to master the skills that will allow them to work anywhere in today's dynamic business world.

Debbe Kennedy, President, CEO and Founder of Global Dialogue Center and Leadership Solutions Companies, and author of Action Dialogues and Breakthrough once shared this piece of advice that was instrumental in shaping her direction, future and achievements.

She was a young manager at IBM just promoted to her first staff assignment in a regional marketing office. For reasons she can't explain, one of her colleagues named Bookie called her into his office while she was visiting his location. He then began to offer unsolicited advice, advice that now stays fresh in her mind. He mentioned that jobs, missions, titles and organizations would come and go as business is dynamic - meaning it is always changing. He advised her not to focus your goals toward any of these, but instead learn to master the skills that will allow you to work anywhere.

He was talking about four skills:

  • The ability to develop an idea;
  • Effectively plan for its implementation;
  • Execute second-to-none;
  • Achieve superior results time after time.

With this in mind, Kennedy's best advice is to seek jobs and opportunities with this in mind. Forget what others do. Work to be known for delivering excellence. It speaks for itself and it opens doors.

Paul B. Thornton presents more of the best advice for being a successful business leader that seven top leaders ever received on the next page. Click to continue reading about effective leadership.

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