What is the secret to success? What is it that pushes some people to the very top of their field, be it in business, sport, or entertainment?
These are the questions we at Zircon sought to answer as we carried out psychological research speaking to entrepreneurs, CEOs, entertainers, Olympians and other sport stars.
Our interviewees included the likes of Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, Anne Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold and Innocent Drinks Head of Brand Dan Germain.
As a result of our research, we identified 10 mental and behavioural qualities commonly found in winners, which we called their Winning Attributes.
We are now taking our Winning Attitude research out into the workplace to help organisations identify how they can succeed.
Have a look at our 10 Winning Attributes, listed below, and see if you or your team have what it takes to be a winner:
1. Burning Ambition
Winners aim and aspire for the stars. They focus on the future and create stretching goals and challenging targets in order to help them achieve this. Having the drive, motivation and dedication to continuously focus on the task at hand was the most frequently used description of a Winning Attitude in our research.
2. Dogged Determination
Having unwavering determination and picking yourself up when things do not go to plan are core to having a Winning Attitude. Winners work hard, try even harder and have another go even if they see themselves as an underdog or behind the curve. Their mental resilience through adversity is a key element to a Winning Attitude, dealing with uncertainty and thriving under pressure.
3. Realistic Optimism
Being a realistic optimist and turning a negative into a positive is critical to success. The Winners we interviewed were optimistic about the future, always finding a way to turn the most negative situations into a positive. This does however need to be combined with a dose of reality. They are realistic in their pursuit of their dreams and do not allow negative comments to affect them, working past setbacks in a positive way.
4. Unwavering Belief
Our Winners didn’t necessarily start their journey with unwavering belief – they measure their success in their achievements and have an intrinsic need to prove themselves. The success and achievement of goals and targets help to reinforce and confirm their self-belief. Winners are also self-aware: they know their limits and accept their imperfections, choosing to build on their personal Strengths and self-improve in order to achieve their successes. As a result, they have a clear understanding of what they can and cannot control, and they are not afraid of failure – this only makes them stronger.
5. Intrinsic Generosity
A striking and surprising finding was the extent to which our Winners are generous and put others first. They spend time and money to care for colleagues, family members and teammates; wanting to help them to achieve and succeed. They trust these people implicitly, they look to them for support and advice and are happy to ask for feedback and decision-making support.
6. Mutual Respect
Persuasiveness, empathy and tolerance are the elements that make up this characteristic of a Winning Attitude. This relates to an individual’s ability to be a strong leader within a team and bring people along with them on the journey. Our Winners in this research respect their colleagues, fellow competitors and team, they build strong relationships and consider other people’s perspectives. They gain buy-in and support through having credibility and honouring promises. They realise the importance of being one ‘cog‘ in the team machine and value collaborating with others to create a strong team ethic.
7. Maximising Opportunities
Taking full advantage of every opportunity was frequently mentioned as being key to success. The Winners see an opportunity and grasp it with both hands and make full use of the situation or task. They do not take their situation for granted and are grateful for the opportunities that have come about, seeking to make the most of their situation.
8. Disruptive Thought
Winners challenge themselves and others to think and operate differently. They embrace change, questioning the status quo in order to better themselves and others. They are innovative in solving critical problems and remain open minded when assessing and analysing a situation.
9. Constant Curiosity
Individuals with this characteristic absorb huge amounts of information, learn from each challenge and take any opportunity to develop their skills. They have an intrinsic need to continually grow. Having the ability to learn from others and from past mistakes is key to being successful.
10. Single Minded Focus
Having a high attention to detail is critical for success, as Winners regularly monitor and refine practices. Winning individuals take a methodical approach and focus on perfecting on the small, daily tasks so that the larger tasks take care of themselves. Individuals who are single-minded plan both for success and failure, prioritising tasks to try and ensure the best outcome possible. They break down the task or problem into smaller parts in order to create simplicity and clarity.
Dr Amanda Potter is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with over 20 years’ experience. She founded Zircon in 2000 and more recently BeTalent, an online service offering talent solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes. You can follow both on twitter at@Zirconmc&@BeTalentLtd