6 Leadership Traits for Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

Latest posts by Steve Kahan (see all)

I’ve been blessed to work with many great mentors and at some of the world’s best startup companies. I’ve done extensive research on what successful startup entrepreneurs do, how they act, how they think and the attitudes they have. I’ve learned what separates these startup entrepreneurs from the herd.

Armed with this knowledge, I’ve created a blueprint for achieving breakthrough success in your career by removing the mystery of how the best entrepreneurs succeed at the highest level. This blueprint consists of six leadership traits you can immediately put into practice to accelerate and transform the trajectory of your career.

Realize there’s no substitute for hard work

There is only one way to the top, and that is through hard work. There simply is no substitute for rolling-up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty – frequently. No great achievements are possible or sustained without hard work. Hard work is the price you will pay for the success you desire.

Regularly challenge the status quo

We’ve all heard the old sayings, like: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The status quo represents a bias that can permeate the culture of a company, keeping in place the current state of affairs. It’s comfortable, predictable and perceived as less risky. But, growth requires change.

Most every person and organization that wants to become great has to challenge the status quo at some point. The pace of change is incredible. But, our ability to keep up with it isn’t. You simply can’t achieve and build on success if you continue to do the same things the same ways.

Summon the courage to make tough decisions

Are you daring enough to make a tough call? Do you have the “guts” to make an unpopular decision? Strong leaders are able to quickly assess a situation and decide, when others stand idle. Many people fear making the wrong decision. That’s because most decisions are not cut and dry. Decisions can be very hard to make because the world does not exist in black and white. It exists in shades of gray. The most difficult part of making a decision is having the courage to know that you might be wrong when the outcome is unclear– but to decide anyways.

Acknowledge the white elephant in the room

Have you ever been in a business meeting where things seem to be going great, yet there is that one big issue hanging over everyone like a cloud? These are the issues that everyone is thinking about, but no one wants to discuss. The “elephant” in the room, if you will.These are the topics that are uncomfortable, the topics people usually want to avoid. And, why not? It’s easier and less stressful to avoid the big problems But unlike fine wine, elephants don’t get better over time. They rarely vanish. They must be addressed head on.

Take accountability

I’m sure you’ve heard these questions before… Why can’t “they” just be more accountable? Why do things seem to be falling through the cracks? Why doesn’t he seem to accept responsibility for his projects? Who owns this?

Accountability takes guts. It’s one of the most important traits that leaders in successful organizations possess. Accountability is all about being responsible for decisions, actions and results. It’s all about taking ownership, and sets the stage for high performance. Without accountability, execution suffers.

The problem is that not every organization has a culture that fosters accountability. And, not everyone is hard-wired to be accountable. Accountable people hate both. It causes frustration and A+ talent to leave. On the flip side, accountability is empowering and its contagious – there just needs to be more of it.

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Be optimistic and exude positive energy

Winston Churchill said it perfectly, “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”

Do you see the cup as half full or half empty? Do you focus on the upside or the downside? What’s the overall vibe in your office?

Optimism is contagious. People who are optimistic are more successful at work and at home. Optimistic people don’t sweat the small stuff. They are happier, don’t give up easily and are promoted more frequently. Pessimism can also be contagious. Have you ever heard the phrase misery loves company? Pessimists find others to commiserate with, and if you get dragged into their group, it will suck the life out of you.

Being at the helm of a successful startup requires a high level of positivity. Change is constant and adversity is around every corner. But consistently being optimistic can be much easier said than done.

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