Updated: Aug 24
What is a Rainmaker?
Are you a rainmaker? While your job description may not include a sales quota, I believe that in some form or fashion, all of us are in sales. The question is simply “what are you selling?” When we use the term “rainmaker” to describe someone, it is common to have a mental picture of a backslapping sales person or a person who brings in business by the droves to a professional firm. I am suggesting we take a broader view of this term to be anyone who helps contribute to an organization by “thinking like an entrepreneur and delivering like a professional.”
I have worked with organizations to unlock their full potential by helping teams adopt this mindset. My approach is to create the “habit” of thinking this way. I enjoy watching people who never considered themselves “rainmakers” learn, grow, and create a bigger impact in their organization.
Think Like an Entrepreneur
I have spent a good bit of my life studying the lives of successful entrepreneurs. Below are some of the key traits of these entrepreneurs that we can adopt as well.
Find Your Sweet Spot
I encourage and challenge people to find their “sweet spot” in life. This is also sometimes referred to as your “unique ability” or your area of “genius.” I believe we all have a sweet spot where our passions and skills intersect to create value for others. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t know your passion. I frequently get questions about that. There are many great tools and resources to help you unlock your true passion. Don’t force it – it is a journey.
When you operate in your sweet spot, your work becomes more like play, and you usually achieve our greatest success in life. To clarify, this does not necessarily mean that you try and turn your hobbies into your work. Many activities are better left to being a hobby than turning into your vocation. If you have not adopted a mindset to work in your sweet spot, I encourage you to start down that path. Life is short – don’t waste it!
Much is being written these days about the need to think creatively in our work. Jobs that are simply redundant and repetitious are on the way out. They can be easily outsourced. You may not consider yourself creative, but I promise it is in there. You are still the same person that probably loved to grab some crayons years ago and color away!
Unfortunately, our industrial age school structure does not really promote creativity. In fact, it really tends to promote conformity and following the rules. Employers today need employees who can think creatively to solve tomorrow’s problems. Become invaluable in whatever you do by tapping into that creative spirit. If you are feeling challenged in this regard, I would recommend Michael Gelb’s classic book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.
Focus On Results
Entrepreneurs understand that the bottom line is that you have to add value and create results. They don’t confuse activity with productivity. It is very easy today to be busy. In fact, most people can sit at their desks and volley emails all day and seem quite busy. The question is what value are you really bringing? Are you actually getting things done? Entrepreneurs don’t get lost in the trees so much that they forget the forest. They keep the big picture in perspective. If you find yourself feeling like you are on an email fueled treadmill in your work, it is probably time to step back and consider what are the real results that need to be achieved.
Ask the Big Questions
This one is a real game changer. Entrepreneurs ask powerful questions that lead to possibility thinking. They ask questions like – Why are we doing this? What if we created a new product, service, etc.? What could we do to make this better? They ask these probing questions of themselves and others. They seek clarity and understanding. Entrepreneurs aren’t just “order takers.” They seek to understand the real needs of their customers and employees. I would encourage you to start today to consider some of these deeper questions and learn to become someone who routinely asks the big questions.
Deliver Like a Professional
As I have conducted workshops on these topics and interviewed successful leaders, there are some key recurring themes that have come out regarding professionalism. Below I have described some of the key attributes of “delivering like a professional.”
Real professionals put the needs of others first. They are humble and elevate those around them. They invest themselves in their co-workers and clients. They don’t let the opportunity for personal gain impact their decisions. Real professionals take a selfless approach to their work and make sure that they truly understand and deliver on the needs of those around them.
Real professionals are lifelong learners. They develop deep and lasting expertise in their fields. Regardless of your job, there are always ways to learn to do it better. Professionals seek out knowledge and absorb it like a sponge. They are “go to” people when you want the job done right. Consider what you could do to become the “expert” in your workplace to bring real value to your organization.
Integrity is a word used a lot in the marketplace, but I think often overlooked in practical application. People of integrity are able to develop trust in their organizations. They are people who do what they say they are going to do. You know that they are not going to cut corners or skirt the truth. These are people who have a core set of values that they live by. Regardless of the mistakes you may have made in the past, you can begin today being someone of unquestioned integrity.
Real professionals understand that every project they work on can either leave a mark of excellence or mediocrity. They strive to do the very best job they can. They want to leave a legacy of quality and excellence in whatever they do. Your work product is a reflection of who you are – make it great!
I hope you will consider expanding your thinking about becoming a rainmaker in your workplace and that you will explore ways to begin thinking like an entrepreneur and delivering like a professional. I promise you won’t regret it!