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Ultrapreneurs . . .

. . . work smarter not longer than other executives.

Working smart hours makes more cents than working long hours. As a starting point, I offer the following report quoted in a recent management newsletter: 50% of all chief executives say they work from 55 to 65 hours per week. Assuming they take weekends off, which is probably a flawed assumption, these folks claim theyre putting in 11-to-13-hour workdays. Another 33% claim workweeks of 66 hours or more. In a five-day workweek, theyd be clocking a minimum of 13.2 hours a day. In a six-day workweek, they would have us believe they devote 11 hours or more to their jobs each day. A minuscule 3% confess to working only 44 hours a week or less. This group is more honest, luckier, less dedicated, less driven, or more frustrated than the other respondents. That leaves 14% who work between 44 and 55 hours a weekor dont work at all. In view of these work-hour claims, it will surprise most CEOs to learn that there is no direct correlation between the number of hours CEOs work and the success of their respective companies. Success, it seems, is more the result of the health of the economy, the unique product advantages a company has over its competitors, the efficiencies of its manufacturing processes, the lack of strong competitors, better customer knowledge and service, or just plain luck. However, having said all that, I want to emphasize one other significant influence in the success equation: I call it ultrapreneurial leadership. Now, you wont find ultrapreneurial in your dictionaries for the simple reason that I made it up. But I did not make up the traits common to chief executives I classify as ultrapreneurs. They have characteristics that allow them to handle the ebb and flow of business better than other executives. Psychologists would describe them in these terms:

  • They love what they doand would rather be doing it than anything else.
  • They have a psychological urge to lead.
  • They are self-confident. They know themselves wellboth their strengths and their weaknesses. They play to their strengths, and they bolster their weaknesses with people who possess the skills they lack.
  • They are great communicators. They share information with all employees.
  • They have little time or inclination for socializing. In fact, they avoid intracompany friendships and relationships.
  • They are geared to systems, new technologies, and team approaches to problem-solving. They measure per-formance results.
  • They enjoy sound mental and physical health, which allows them to carry their workloads comfortably and happily.
  • They are generalists rather than specialists; they have broad knowledge of a wealth of subjects. This enables them to comprehend complex situations quickly and to conceptualize problems easily. It also keeps them from concentrating on just one facet of the business. It encourages them to delegate.
  • They are adept at political maneuvering and at building loyalty among their employees. They are realists who size up people and situations quickly and accurately.
  • They rarely take "no" for an answer. They have confidence in their ability to achieve their goals. When they run into unforeseen problems, they improvise.
  • They thrive on challenges presented by calculated risks. But they take risks only when their mental, physical, and organizations resources can be applied effectively against those risks.
  • They are able to channel their frustrations into constructive effort.
  • They have little need for status. Luxurious cars, expensive homes, and impeccably tailored clothes are at the bottom of their lists of priorities, unless those items work constructively to benefit their businesses.
Ultrapreneurs are good with people. They know how to get others to "buy in" to their agendas: They praise with honest appreciation . . . call attention to mistakes in an indirect manner . . . admit their own mistakes before mentioning those of another . . . ask questions instead of giving orders . . . make people feel good about themselves and enthusiastic about their companies. Ultrapreneurs get twice as much work done in one work-hour as other executivesand their work is better and more productive. Thats why they dont have to work 12-hour days. Sal F. Marino is chairman emeritus of Penton Publishing Inc. and an IW contributing editor. His e-mail address is [email protected]
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