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Study finds a shared drive for success

IN the modern commercial world it’s well known that management is essential for the success of a business’s day-to-day operations. But it’s also true that the leaders of business are the ones who really make things happen.

Keen to isolate the shared traits of Western Australian business leaders, Murdoch University director of postgraduate studies Grant Robinson has started a study analysing the traits of WA Business News 2003 40under40 winners

Mr Robinson, who is responsible for the Master of Business Administration course at Murdoch, said the WA Business News 40under40 event presented a unique opportunity to gather information about the shared characteristics of Western Australian business leaders.

“While you can’t teach people the characteristics of leadership you can give them pointers of what is required to become a leader,” Mr Robinson said.

What came through strongly in the preliminary studies of the 40under40 winners was their strong people-focus.

“Whether it was staff focus, client focus or simply a demonstrated regard for and awareness of others, the 40under40 winners made it clear that their achievements would not have been possible without others,” Mr Robinson said.

This focus, he said, was not as prevalent in other general business research and he suggested it could be linked to the tall poppy syndrome and Perth’s small business world.

“Being acutely aware that there is a general impression that Australians have little regard for tall poppies, it seems our achievers ensured this was no problem by assuming a very strong people focus, which was the dominant of all the traits and characteristics displayed by the winners,” Mr Robinson said.

Good communication skills and a thirst for knowledge were among the attributes winners identified as important.

Mr Robinson said vision was one of the common and defining characteristics of the group, often being fulfilled by hard work and a focused, determined and tenacious approach to business and life in general.

“It would be fair to say that none of the 40under40 accomplished success by chance, the journey for most had started with a vision,” he said. 

The 40under40 group’s average age was 36.

“Most showed early signs of promise on entering business, often with rapid promotions, whether in-house or from inter-company movement,” Mr Robinson said.

Of the 40 finalists, 28 worked in medium sized enterprises, five came from self-started small enterprises and seven were from large organisations.

Despite the fact that a significant number of women nominated candidates, there were far fewer female nominees than male.

Mr Robinson said this was reflected in the gender demographics of the finalists, with an almost 70:30 male-female split.

“There is no doubt whatsoever from the calibre of the 2003 entrants that there are many business women in the community who are exceptionally accomplished business people that simply need to be nominated,” he said.

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