Real Leaders

How to Be an Xceptional Leader

What if launching and leading an xceptional business was simpler than you’ve ever imagined? Not easier. Not less time consuming. Not less gut wrenching, but simpler. Guess what: It is. What if I told you that many successful entrepreneurs didn’t start with a compelling vision or indeed a workable business plan? Guess what: That’s true. What if it was possible to solve a major problem with no industry background? Well: It is.

In my latest book, DO! The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution, I interviewed entrepreneurs from around the world. They are the leaders of some of the most compelling global brands and companies, ranging from one to 3,000 employees, with turnovers from $100,000 to $130 million. I call them the Xceptionalists.

They hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Bologna, Italy; from Des Moines, Iowa to Galway, Ireland. They run app companies, consultancies, clinics and sprawling technology corporations. And the secret to their success – xceptional execution. Groundbreaking research conducted by Columbia University’s Amar Bhidé in 2000 titled The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses reinforced the term’s significance, revealing that 88% of “breakthrough companies” were the result of “xceptional execution of an ordinary idea,” according to their owners. Only 12% were the result of new inventions. You don’t have to be Bezos or Branson, Einstein or Jobs.

Your product doesn’t have to be a Bentley, Hublot, or a Stradivarius. And your product or service doesn’t have to be a Dropbox, a Flickr, or a Hulu. You must simply find an ordinary idea, and implement that idea with xceptional execution. How? Honouring the two key pillars:

1. Self awareness

The xceptional leader knows, understands and moves with and through their fears. Their motivation is to make a real difference in people’s lives. They understand and honour the power of their intuition and know that doing nothing/taking timeout is the only way to help them see situations as they truly are. They know that perseverance is the new marketing! No surprise that Stanford Business Advisory Committee cited self awareness in 2007 as the most important attribute a leader should develop.

2. Attention

The Xceptional leader understands that attention is the most powerful drug on the planet and is the focal point of their business strategy. They shower their customers (internal and external) with quality authentic attention. They focus not on building customer relationships but on friendships – customers leave, friends stick around a lot longer. All Ben Milne of had was a burning desire to solve an existing problem. His company was paying too much in credit card fees. He knew that if he solved this challenge he would put a lot of money back in people’s pockets, something that would possibly transform lives particularly in the developing world.

The man changing the face of the financial world had no prior background in the industry before he began in 2009. Four years later, Forbes listed Ben as one of the 12 most disruptive names in business for his groundbreaking idea for helping customers process a transaction in a simpler way. Four Argentinian business people wanted to make their country a technology hub during a financial crisis when the peso was devalued, even though they had no business plan, the country had no history in technology, and they had only $5000 in capital.

They knew if successful they could provide valuable employment opportunities in their community. Those four entrepreneurs started – now a global company with 3000 employees and revenues of $129m. Agnes McCourt now 72, created Unislim, Ireland’s biggest slimming organization.

It is now over forty years in existence and continues to grow and evolve even though she admitted in her first class that she hadn’t got a clue about how to lose weight. Her passion to serve this forgotten market was unswerving so much so that not even a death threat could dissuade her from pursuing this path. Being an Xceptionalist is about giving yourself permission to explore the brilliant ideas your mind generates every day and then DO! Be xceptional!

You can purchase DO! The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution here 


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