In the world of business, very few individuals truly make it to the top of their chosen profession. Those who do, those people who operate at executive level and are considered for CEO, Sales Director and CIO jobs, have what it takes to be successful and know how to achieve their goals. The question is how can we reach this level? Richard Branson, owner of Virgin and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, has talked time and again on this topic, and for good reason, his net worth is estimated to be around the $4.8 billion mark. So what does he suggest people do to optimise their chances of success? In an Passion and the ability to take risks on an idea that you know in your heart is great. It’s a good start but what else can the up and coming business tycoon do to kick-start their career trajectory? The following tips won’t guarantee that you’ll land the ultimate jobs of your dreams – but adopt this mindset and you’ll be prepared for any senior career position that comes your way. Don’t shy away from difficult decisions This is the key, and typically the measure by which executive-class managers and heads of departments are judged. Big decisions aren’t easy to make but when the buck stops with no one else and you can prove you’re able to make difficult decisions, you’ll be a terrific asset. Keep your friends close If you have friends in high places then you should keep them close. There’s an old adage, which says that in business it’s not what you know, but who you know. While this shouldn’t be an excuse to sit back and hope an old school pal casually calls one day up to offer you the vice-presidency of his company, it does mean you should actively network with friends, acquaintances, former colleagues and so on. Appreciate the people around you Managers need strong people around them. You might be the figurehead of the company, the brand ambassador and high-profile leader but below you there should be a formidable team of managers reporting into you. Appreciate them, nurture them, reward them well and invest in them, and they’ll not only continue to do their job superbly and support you, they’ll go to professional war for you. Learn how to sell yourself Modesty has little place in the career of a top-level manager or director. Self-promotion is an important tool to have at your disposal – upsell your skills, your experience and your overall knowledge. If you can learn how to sell yourself then you not only put yourself on a pedestal within your own company but also establish a strong reputation within the industry. Don’t overcook it and become arrogant or overbearing, but do maximise your worth. Recognise an opportunity Successful people are able to identify opportunities and are willing to take the necessary risks associated with them. Carefully evaluate a situation to see if the risk is worth it but always keep your eyes and ears open for exciting new opportunities: don’t wait to see something fall into place in its own time – drive the agenda and take the initiative. Learn from your mistakes Everyone makes mistakes but successful people pick themselves up and move on. Mistakes build character and strength, and the very best learn from a difficult experience and resolve to operate differently next time around. Find your own leadership style It’s fine reading the latest books and websites on leadership, and its commendable – and advisable at an earlier career stage – to have a mentor to consult and look up to. But you can only be true to yourself and be your own man, or woman, and you must embrace a leadership style you feel comfortable with. You’ll soon find what people respond to and it doesn’t have to follow a particular process from the latest business best seller. Draw on your strengths – but delegate where necessary Good managers are very aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Work to your strengths but if a task comes up that’s a bit out of your comfort zone, delegate it to someone else and make an effort in the future to improve in that area. Another maxim for successful business leaders: surround yourself with people smarter than you, and you can’t go wrong. Feeling inspired yet? Remember don’t be put off by knock backs, I touched on this briefly above but it’s worth repeating, as the old adage goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. After all, even Richard Branson has suffered set backs, and not just in the world of business… “It’s extremely important not to give up. There have been situations in my adventures, like crossing the pacific in a balloon, where the odds were stacked very heavily against us surviving. Being an entrepreneur is not that dissimilar to being an adventurer. You have plenty of situations where your back is right up against a wall and you’ve just got to work day and night to make sure you overcome the difficulties a particular company finds itself in. Brush yourself down the next day and move on into something else.” If you’ve been successful in the world of business, add your tips in the comments below and share your knowledge with the rest of the world. You never know, it could be your piece of advice that sparks the inspiration of the next big entrepreneur. Images: “happy young businessman and big city/Shutterstock.com“ ____________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. 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