“Attitude” is a bad word – at least in business. When people say so-and-so has “attitude”, it’s not usually a compliment. In fact, it usually means that the person has a bad attitude, one that hinders successful interaction with others.
This frame of mind may come from the deep belief within business that the Mind rules. Decision-Making and Execution are revered as the source of business and career success.
Attitude, so the thinking goes, often can get in the way of that.
But there are some business people (and thus businesses) that see it differently. A VP of Southwest Airlines once said,
“We hire for ATTITUDE, not for APTITUDE (except for Pilots).”
What kind of attitude will help you succeed in business? Here’s my take:
- PASSION: First figure out what you’re passionate about. Then don’t hold back. To use a sports cliché, “leave everything on the field”. Don’t wait to be told what do to; take the initiative and forge ahead!
- Dedication to Serving a HIGHER PURPOSE, instead of just focusing on yourself, your physical and social needs. Think of your spiritual need to make a difference in other people’s lives. Apple CEO Tim Cook put it this way in his address to the 2017 graduating class at MIT: “Steve (Jobs) and Apple freed me to throw my whole self into my work, to embrace their mission and make it my own. How can I serve humanity? This is life’s biggest and most important question. When you work towards something greater than yourself, you find meaning, you find purpose. So, the question I hope you will carry forward from here is how will you serve humanity?”
- INCLUSIVENESS & CONNECTION: We’re so used to Competition in business. We think it is what makes companies succeed and Capitalism work. But there is growing recognition that a spirit of Oneness and InterConnection is replacing the spirit of Separation and Competition. Open your eyes and Mind to this idea and it may transform the way you work – and lead.
- CARING & RESPECT: There is so little caring and respect in most businesses. When there is caring and respect, companies – and the people in them achieve great things. Think of Southwest Airlines above.
- POSITIVENESS. So many people are defined by what they are against. That’s where their energy is. What they don’t understand is that the more negative they are, the more they attract negativity into their lives – and businesses.
That’s probably just scratching the surface. You may well think of more aspects of attitude that you’d like to throw into the hopper. If you do, we’d like to hear from you.
While we’re talking about Attitude, let’s look at another, related ingredient needed in business: CHARACTER.
Norman Schwarzkopf, the great American military commander of the Gulf War once said,
“Leadership is a potent combination of Strategy and Character.
But, if you must be without one, be without the Strategy,”
Too often, people in business don’t recognize the power of character. They think that somehow having a good character slows them down.
For example, I think it was Vince Lombardi. the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers professional football team, who once said, something like:
“The road to Defeat is paved with Kind Hearts!”
Translation: Don’t let your(good) Heart Get in the way of winning!
What kind of Character is needed to succeed in business?
Sure, we do need:
- The ability to THINK clearly – and made good DECISIONS
- Good ORGANIZATION
- Efficient EXECUTION
But we also need these additional qualities, which come from Character:
- CONNECTION which then fosters COLLABORATION
- SERVING a Greater Good than just ourselves
- DEPENDABILITY (If we say we’re going to do something, we do it)
- A Focus on GIVING as well as GETTING
These are all qualities that Ken Bardach and I are writing about in The Noble Leader book that will be published in 2019. If you’d like to add to our list, please write us.
So, if you want to increase your business skills – and your business, try working on your Attitude and Character.
To do that, you might first want to assess those aspects of yourself.
How do you rate yourself on each of these?
What can you do to improve the ones where you are not doing so well?
Ask a few associates to rate you on each of these. On ones where they rate you much lower than you did, take some time to explore why others rank you lower than you do,
Speaking of ATTITUDE and CHARACTER – and SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, did you know what SW Air’s NY Stock Exchange symbol is?
Maybe that symbol tells us something about how Southwest Air became rated as the top airline by passengers. They chose LUV!
So, go ahead: Get (and show) some Attitude – and build your Character! It will pay dividends for your – and your company!