Build Success Into Your People

Nine out of ten businesses started will fail. In fact, eight out of ten businesses will fail in their first 18 months.

That’s a lot of failures.

To start a business is to  is truly to go against the odds, and while businessmen cannot ignore the numbers, this is one number all entrepreneurs want to avoid: to be part of the Nine.

I actually like to explain the concept of faith to businessmen this way. That despite the statistics, despite the data pointing that we’re more likely to fail than succeed, we choose to “believe” that we have something that has great value and we choose the “trust” in a process of starting, failing, learning, growing, trying new things, trying harder, turning, yearning, reminding, consulting, achieving, living, sometimes restarting, and all the other steps of becoming a success. It truly is a walk of faith albeit not always a religious one.

Yet, while the odds are against us, there are things we can do to succeed. I like to think of these disciplines as “building-success-in” or applying to your daily activities the practices that constantly improve the organization and help in improving the chances of success.

One of the most important, if not the most important in my opinion, is building-success-into your people, meaning equipping them with the right values, the right attitudes, the right processes, the right tools, the right motivation, and the right rewards to choose the decisions that lead to success, and, again my opinion, in decreasing dependence of my control. 

The best people I have are not those who don’t have other options, they are those who, among all the wonderful options they have, choose me.

There are two quick insights here:

1. People Who Are Excellent Will Have More Opportunities

If someone has the skills and abilities to do excellent work, he will be able to provide more value and improve his desirability overtime. So don’t be surprised that your best people are getting opportunities. Instead, put it upon your shoulders, as the leader, to keep giving them a reason to stay through relationships, a strong culture, personal and career growth, and of course meeting financial aspirations. In fact, I would be more worried if my top people didn’t have options other than me because that probably means I’m the only one willing to hire them – that’s not a good sign.

2. People Who Are Excellent Choose Their Companies Just as Much as Their Companies Choose Them

What I mean by this is commitment from team members is just as important as the commitment of the company to team members. This commitment has to have clear expectations, conditions, and benefits. Commitment and loyalty are rare these days but there still those who understand the benefit of growing with a company and a team. These people are rare and leaders should engage them and deliver value to them just as they deliver value to the leaders.

Most leaders I’ve observed are “Command and Expect” leaders. This leadership style is to give orders and expect everyone to carry them out exactly as imagined. When the output is less than expected, they act like any of us when our expectations aren’t met, becoming mad, angry, frustrated, and disappointed.

I have to admit I was once in this category.

More and more I’m learning to add new dimensions to my leadership style, and it started with the thought of “How do I build success into the lives of my people? How do I make it that they succeed with the company? How do I make the time they spend with me not a period where they ‘followed David on his way to success’ but a period where they ‘followed me on the way to their own success’? How do I help them achieve their goals even as they achieve mine? How do I deliver value to them even as they deliver value to me?”

While going through the PayrollHero keynote presentation I was reminded of another crazy business reality:

Companies in the US lose $11,000,000,000 annually to employee turnover with Asia not faring any better with only 88% employee engagement scores. 

I wonder what the impact of turning this stat around would be? Maybe it may even help improve the 1 out of 10 company success rate.

The point is this: improve your chances of success by not merely commanding and expecting success from your people but building it in. There’s a reason why leaders are leaders, it’s to influence others in such a way to bring out the best they can contribute, usually this starts by first giving them your best.


David Bonifacio is the Managing Director of New Leaf Ventures.
Connect with David on LinkedIn



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David Bonifacio is the Direcor of Strategy for the CBTL Holdings Group, Managing Director of New Leaf Ventures, Managing Director of Elevation Partners, Managing Director of IDC Manpower Services, President of Issho Genki International, and advises businesses in South East Asia on matters of strategy, technology, and people development. David serves actively on the boards and committees of non-profit organizations including: Habitat for Humanity Philippines (housing) and CCT (microfinance). David pursues his creative interests through his blog

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