The more business leaders I talk to in my career, the more I’ve learned to cringe at the follow-the-lemming mentality steering most companies. Want spectacular results in business? Find out where everyone else is going – and run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction!
I hope you enjoy this page ripped straight from the business heretic’s playbook. Just remember, if you find yourself agreeing with all 12 items below, you probably need to read it again.
1. If it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong
Mother Nature was pretty smart when she designed serotonin, that wonderful brain chemical that rewards us for doing something pleasurable and hooks us so we want to do it again. If your work isn’t pleasurable on some profoundly basic level, guess what? It’s going to seem too much like a chore, and you’ll resent it. Love your work. Make it feel like play.
2. The most important question in business: Who does it serve?
If it serves your people, do it. If it serves your customers, do it. If it serves your stockholders, your bureaucracy, or your own selfish needs? Think long and hard before you do it. Care for your people and customers, and reap the rewards. It’s the irrefutable Zen of business.
3. The most important word in any language: Because
People want to know why. Give them a reason, and they’ll do anything you ask. Don’t, and they won’t. …At least not very well, or for very long.
4. The leader steers the culture – the culture steers the company
The most effective leader in the world can probably only manage ten people herself. In the Twentieth Century, the way around that was to build a hierarchy – a whole pyramid of Mini Me’s to rule in her absence. We know better now. Build a culture instead. Your culture will run your business better than a bureaucracy ever could.
5. You aren’t a leader till you put your job on the line for your people
Seriously. This is the test.
6. As often as possible, ask, “Is it fair to all concerned?”
You’d have to be completely tone-deaf to miss the great hue crossing the earth recently: “That’s not fair!” Injustice has brought down governments, and it will certainly bring your company down as well. Work the word “Fair” into all of your conversations and decisions. Watch the magic it inspires!
7. Act with certainty – just please, laugh at yourself all the while
I crack up whenever I watch a self-important leader take himself too seriously. It’s like this, folks: we have to act on the knowledge we have. That knowledge will never be even remotely complete. So we’re going to err – all the time. But it’s okay, because so will everyone else. Look in the mirror, have a chuckle, and get back to work.
8. Don’t compete on price, just… don’t
You know who competes on price successfully? Walmart. Ryan Air. And… okay, two companies, in all the world. Let your competitor compete on price. You compete on quality, at a fair price. If for no other advice on this list, you’ll thank me for this.
9. You haven’t mastered your job till you can make it look easy
A lot of successful people hate this one – because it challenges their entire self-image. I am not saying be a slacker: I would never say anything of the sort! I am convinced, however, that if you aren’t in control of your own calendar and of your mood, you have yet to master what you do. Serenity is the ultimate sign of mastery.
10. Surround yourself with diverse opinions
Who tells you when your baby is ugly? Next time you want to fire someone for their audacity, give that person a bonus instead. In the words of one sage, “If you and I always agree, one of us is redundant.” Drop the sycophants and promote the obstreperous.
11. Pay = Respect. Respect your people
There are all sorts of very worthwhile places to save your organization money. Pay is not one of them. If you want the best talent, you have to pay for it. (And if you don’t want the best talent… what are you thinking?)
12. Invert your pyramid
The people on the front lines run your company. Everyone else supports them in doing that, or distracts them instead. Take this from management-retreat platitude to real life by living it. Reward leaders for enabling their team to stay in production mode. Remember: Customer facing? Important. Company-facing? Not.
13. Always give more than you promised
I promised you 12 tips and gave you 13. What do you do for your customers and your people? Never just fulfill a contract. Exceed it!
We are experiencing an unprecedented change in how business gets done – something most self-styled gurus haven’t caught on to yet. So forget the gurus. Business heresy may at times be a lonely path, but you know what? It’s a lot more satisfying to be right and alone than to go extinct with the rest of the dinosaurs of the 20th Century.
This post originally appeared on 12Most.