Editor's note: Jim Clifton was interviewed recently for the National Federation of Independent Business' Playbook magazine on the strengths of entrepreneurs. Here are the questions and answers.
Why is it so important for entrepreneurs to understand and focus on their strengths? What can this reveal?
Great entrepreneurs have core strengths in common, such as extreme determination and a gift to create successful business models. But outside of these core characteristics, they have more differences than commonalities -- how they grow to success is highly individualized.
Some will get there by being experts, some by being master salespeople. Some become successful as master managers, while others achieve success as extreme individual achievers. Some are driven by an insatiable need to compete, others solely by a mission to change the world.
The more precisely an entrepreneur understands their strengths and weaknesses -- and then builds strategies to maximize their strengths -- the higher the probability that they will build something of significance that creates millions or billions of dollars of value, thousands of good jobs and something that changes the world a little to a lot.
In your experience, are there any particular strengths that you have found to be the most common among the top entrepreneurs?
Rare drive and determination. Confidence and self-efficacy that overrides the presence of risk. A gift to create customers and profitable business models.
Is it equally important for entrepreneurs to understand their weaknesses?
Of course. But weaknesses only need to be minimized, as they never develop into strengths. All the money and success comes from knowing and maximizing strengths. The miracle of human development lies within focusing growth around one's strengths and making weaknesses irrelevant.
What advice would you have for small and midsize business owners who want to become better leaders for their organization?
Two things. First, change your current culture to a strengths-based culture for you and all of your employees. Everything will change for the better and your organization will boom to new heights if you do this. A strengths-based culture is one in which every individual knows their strengths and is put on a job where they use them every day.
Second, know this: You are always CEO of customers. The ultimate definition of your career will simply be how many true believers you created for your products or services. Everything else follows that.