20 Essential Habits Business Development Leaders Yearn To See

The role of a business development leader is challenging and vital. These professionals foster growth, steer companies toward new opportunities and forge valuable partnerships. As the business landscape evolves, so too do the expectations placed upon these leaders and also on their teams.

Below, 20 Forbes Business Development Council members share the habits they wish more of their employees would cultivate. From the art of proactive networking to the discipline of strategic thinking, these habits not only enhance individual prowess but also foster a cohesive and forward-thinking team culture.

1. Go Above And Beyond

Do more than what’s asked. It can be challenging to separate yourself from the competition when it comes to successful business development. Doing more than what’s asked from coworkers, clients and prospects will immediately separate you from the pack and make you invaluable. Next time you’re crafting a response, think to yourself, “What’s one more thing I could add that this person might need?” – Daniel Biagini, American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company

2. Foster Trust With Managing Up

At any stage of one’s career, managing up is a skill that can benefit all employees. Managing up is a way for employees to foster better relationships and increase trust with managers, which then supports short-term success for the team and long-term career advancement. While developing these skills can take time, the benefits managing up can bring are worth the effort for employees to develop. – Javier Molina, Starburst

3. Develop A Sense Of Situational Awareness

To develop situational awareness. Too much of the work culture in the U.S. is framed around tasks, punch lists and blanket statements and approaches. Being so general and robotic in how we do our work—but more importantly in how we deal with others—is what causes poor consumer experiences, and ultimately causes brands to fail. Learning to read people and listen more will allow us to better connect and serve. – Arjun Dhingra, All Western Mortgage

4. Be Independent And Persevere

One behavior I really admire is independent perseverance in the face of a challenge. To be sure, asking for help is certainly a skill and is key to career growth, but taking the first steps on your own is equally important. I really appreciate it when an employee approaches me not only with a question but with a list of steps they’ve already taken to try to solve the problem on their own. – Mike Meisenheimer, Alexander Group

5. Seek A More Personalized Human Approach

I would love my team to have an “old is gold” mentality of picking up the phone more often to prospects, customers and internal stakeholders instead of the idea that only emails and social media sells, which is often a more comfortable and more accessible approach for employees. Drive a personalized human approach toward consistency in delivering goals. – Pradeepa Kolli, LHH (The Adecco Group)


Forbes Business Development Council is an invitation-only community for sales and biz dev executives. Do I qualify?


6. Take Personal Accountability

Run the account like it is their own business. This ensures accountability but also keeps individuals creative, finding ways to be inventive and think outside of the box on ways to connect with others. When the rep acts like their name is on the door, they make decisions based on what is best for the overall health of the business. – Jessica McDowell, TD SYNNEX

7. Combat The Imposter Phenomenon

The imposter phenomenon is a huge hindrance to an employee realizing their full potential. It affects their productivity, communication, confidence, decision making and problem-solving skills —all of which are fundamental for the sustainable prosperity of both the employee, the workforce and the business. – Angelica Kopec, She Knows Business

8. Communicate Proactively And Regularly

Effective communication is the bedrock of a strong organization. Without a clear acknowledgment of the tasks and accomplishments of team members, managing becomes an uphill battle. Consequently, the most coveted attribute I seek from employees is the ingrained habit of proactive communication and regular reporting. – Dylan Nguyen, FG Entertainment Network

9. Be Actively Networking

I think one of the most powerful things that has affected my career is being in a constant state of networking. I wish that more employees would engage the free networking tools at their disposal in a more consistent way. Social media platforms require consistency to have an impact. – Mark Clark, Modern Optical International

10. Join Brainstorming Sessions

I believe consistency, persistence and accountability are table stakes. What I’d love to see more of is a weekly or monthly creativity session with the team. This is where you think and discuss new ways of engaging prospects, partners and customers. These ideas are written down and discussed amongst the team. The suggestions that the team will make to perfect the idea could be gold. – Olga Lykova, Workspot

11. Collect Valuable Market Intel

Collect market intel about the competition. This is a critical strategic aspect of business growth. As business development personnel, you need to stay ahead of the competition. Information and data are the new gold. – Folasade Femi-Lawal, FirstBank of Nigeria Ltd

12. Work On Big Projects Consistently

Always have a few moonshots that are in process. Oftentimes sellers get caught up in the day-to-day and lose focus on the big-time deals that truly move the needle. The biggest deals do not just magically appear and it’s important that we put in consistent time and effort every week —even if it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel is so far away. Big deals take consistent effort. – Jean-Marc Chanoine, Templafy

13. Develop Active Listening Skills

The primary skills I always want on my team are proactive communication and active listening. Everyone’s busy and everyone’s got a lot of messaging they see every day. The only way to cut through the vast amount of noise leads and customers received daily is to communicate and listen to people actively. For instance, many people talk too much and listen too little, missing critical information. – Wayne Elsey, The Funds2Orgs Group

14. Have Empathy For Your Customers And Partners

Have empathy for their counterpart on the customer or partner end. Putting yourself in another’s shoes is a skill that you need to develop until the day you retire. It doesn’t only give you the power of a stronger relationship, but it also helps you feel the market momentum and recover from your mistakes rapidly. – Ahmed Ammar, LABS – Logical Applications for Business Solutions

15. Grow Problem-Solving Skills

I wish more of my employees would develop better problem-solving skills. Encouraging problem-solving among employees creates a workplace culture that values innovation and resilience. It helps them tackle challenges, think critically and drive positive change for the organization’s success. – Lomit Patel, Tynker

16. Narrow The Focus Of Goal Setting

A to-do list for 52 weeks or an “annual strategy and evaluation” sounds too heavy to cascade the goal in the company. To be on the same page as the employee, spread the weekly management habit. Even though one year has 52 weeks, if you exclude every regular task that takes two weeks per month, the national holiday season and year-end during New Year holidays, it’d be a reasonably clear habit of focusing on only 20 weeks of management per year. – Gyehyon Andrea Jo, MVLASF

17. Be Proactive In Sharing Ideas And Challenges

I wish more employees would develop the habit of proactive communication. In a dynamic business environment, sharing ideas, challenges and feedback openly can lead to problem-solving and innovation. It promotes collaboration, understanding and alignment toward our shared objectives, ultimately driving our company’s success. – Tomer Warschauer Nuni, Pink Moon Studio Ltd

18. Acknowledge Errors And Learn From Them

Take ownership of errors. I have no problem with mistakes as I make them myself regularly. The most important part of taking responsibility is then learning from those errors and ensuring safeguards are in place to stop them from happening again. Demonstrated characteristics through this process include honesty, trust, adaptive learning, leadership and self-regulation. This is an admirable employee trait. – Peter Schravemade, REACH ASEA

19. Develop A Business Development Mindset

I wish that everyone had a business development mindset. In other words, I wish that everyone envisioned themselves as part of the sales team to market and sell our products and services. I would not expect them to get the deal signed, but I would expect them to be “bird dogs”—keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities and then share that information internally so it can become capture business. – Vincent Burruano, Vince Burruano Consulting Services, LLC

20. Acquire The Trait Of Discipline

As a business development leader, one great habit I wish more of my employees would develop is discipline. Discipline enables individuals to stay focused, maintain consistency and follow through on their commitments. It fosters a strong work ethic, ensures timely execution and contributes to overall success in achieving our mission. – George Negron, Timilon Corporation

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