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This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

Smart business people:

1. Understand that the way to serve customers in an exemplary way is to serve employees in the same manner. If dazzling service doesn't happen on the inside, it's unlikely to happen on the outside.

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2. Have a strategic game plan for their organization and use it as the context for all tactical activity. Chasing tactics that don't have direct line of sight to strategy is a characteristic of non-performing organizations.

3. Don't over-analyze everything. The degree of study depends on the risk associated with the decision to be made. They don't get mesmerized with the tools of analysis; they use them appropriate to the level and risk inherent in the decision to be made.

4. Don't look for perfection. The quest for the perfect solution (which doesn't exist in any event) only takes valuable time away from execution. They understand that success is a function of doing lots of imperfect stuff fast.

5. Are known champions of change which gives them currency in the organization and the ability to garner resources to get things done.

6. Are "mindless" about execution. They are comfortable with loosening up on the plan; get it "just about right", and bear down and focus on execution. They understand that performance depends on how well they execute, not on the efficacy of the plan.

7. Spend copious amounts of time with the front line; "on the coal face" where customer meets company. Learning what's really going on. Make meaningful change. They don't have an ivory tower mentality.

8. Are contrarian by nature. They believe that the source of opportunity lies not in copying what others are doing, but rather charting a course that no one else is on. They are "180-degree thinkers" .

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9. Place a priority on meeting with customers regularly. There is no substitute for getting feedback on performance directly from a customer. They make it a priority and schedule it weekly on their calendar.

10. Are relentless and voracious learners. Standing still intellectually isn't an option in a world changing every instant. Value added to the organization depends on business people "keeping up". They believe staying ahead requires learning leadership.

The smart generation of business people know that success doesn't come from an academic pedigree.

They know that brilliant performance is the result of practising the fundamentals of being different than the competition, staying close to customers, serving employees and executing strategy in the trenches.

Roy Osing (@RoyOsing), former executive vice-president of Telus, is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead, dedicated to helping organizations and individuals stand out from the competitive herd.

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