Job number one: Set and achieve business goals. This is the first area where clarity is essential. You must know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish and how you will mea- sure success when you achieve it.
In a recent Fortune article investigating the reasons why twenty-eight CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had been fired in the previous three years, one fault stood out above all others: “Failure to execute.”
In warfare, a military commander is given the responsibility of achieving victory against the enemy. In business, each executive at every level is given the responsibility to achieve specific, measurable business victories or goals. The inability to get the required results, and to achieve the goals in a timely fashion, is the primary reason for failure, frustration, and firing at every level, in every company, large or small. Take the time to develop absolute clarity about what it is you expect to accomplish to justify your position and earn your pay. Then focus and concentrate all your energies on achieving that goal, or goals, in a timely fashion. Your reputation for achieving essential goals will help you more than any- thing else you can do.
When General George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the U.S. Army during World War II, was urged to replace the arrogant and outspoken General George S. Patton, he told his critics, “I can’t spare this man; he wins battles.”
Job number two: Innovate and market. Cash flow is the “blood to the brain” of every business organization. Cash flow comes from the ability to generate sales and revenues in a timely fashion. Sales generation requires continuous innovation and an un-relenting focus on marketing and selling the products and services of the company.
Apply the “CANEI Strategy” to your sales and marketing efforts. CANEI stands for “Continuous and Never-Ending Improvement.” Never be satisfied. Look for new, better, faster, and cheaper ways to market and sell your products, every day, and every hour of the day.
Victory in business terms means the ability to win customers, to capture markets, and to generate sales and revenues in excess of their costs. The ability of the executive or entrepreneur to innovate and market continuously is the ultimate determinant of business success, profitability, and promotion.
Job number three: Solve problems and make decisions.
Whatever title appears on your business card can be crossed out and replaced with the words “Problem-Solver.” This is your real job. You solve problems from morning to night. Your success is largely determined by how effective you are at solving the problems that arise in your work.
Effective executives are good at solving problems. They make the right decisions, and they make their decisions right. Whenever you are faced with a difficulty at work, ask,
“What exactly is the problem?” Beware of a problem for which there is only one definition. Restate the problem in several different ways to make it more amenable to a solution. Always ask, “What else is the problem?”
In solving problems, think and talk exclusively in terms of solutions. Focus all your attention on the specific actions you can take to solve the problem. Whatever the situation, make the necessary decisions, and continue moving forward. Forget about the past and who is to blame. Focus on the future and what actions you can take now. Take command.