4-Step Secret to Success from Top CEOs

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In my executive coaching of 30+ years I’ve worked with over a thousand chief executives from eighteen different countries and in every industry. Once a week someone asks my take on the secret to success in business. I can answer with four points:

1. Smile

Smile because you have to look and act confident. An open expression engaging your eyes and your attitude work universally. Lips turned upward make you look awake, alive, and approachable.

2. Ask questions

Ask questions because everyone dislikes a know-it-all and know one does know it all. You empower people when you ask their opinion, experience, advice, etc. and when you empower them they respect and trust you.

3. Make decisions

Make decisions before someone makes them for you, because they will. And they likely won’t be the decisions you want. It takes courage to put a stake in the ground and decide but again, someone’s going to do it and it might as well be you.

4. Take blame

Take blame early and often when things don’t go well. Do not have a whiff of blaming others even when it was their fault. Find out why they failed and help where you can so it doesn’t happen again. But if you blame them for mistakes you’ll never get their trust or respect.

Successful people take the responsibility to look confident and comfortable so as to make others feel that way around them. Then they ask questions to fill in what they don’t know or confirm what they do so as to make better decisions, sooner. And when things go wrong they take responsibility; when things go well they always give credit to others.

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