Disregard Resourceful People At Your Peril

In our busy world, we frequently hear words and terms like Guru, ‘go-to person’ and thought leader to describe experts in business. We also hear the word innovation a lot. It’s a great word, however, in my view, totally overused and now almost lacks impetus.

Are these words and terms a fad? Who knows but don’t go asking anyone who runs ‘ecosystems.’ (We used to call them communities).

How about the word resourceful? Meaning: ‘Having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.’ (Source: Oxford Living Dictionaries). Somehow, despite its importance, it appears to have been overtaken by the more trendier words like the ones I have shared. Perhaps because it doesn’t sound as cool in a business context. Maybe it’s deemed rather old-fashioned.

Nonetheless, resourceful is a powerful word and to exude resourcefulness can be very powerful in business. The business world brings many challenges and having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties provides an advantage.

Bear in mind ‘quick’ and ‘clever’ as part of the meaning of the word resourceful. In this context ‘quick’ means you need to think on your feet, making the best decisions, fast. ‘Clever’ means being sharp and alert regardless of whether you have a piece of paper proving your educational qualifications. (Wiktionary also uses the word ‘capable’ so you definitely don’t need to be a rocket scientist!)

  • You may have excellent sales skills to get an appointment to pitch to a prospective client. What would happen if technology lets you down right in the middle of your presentation? How would you react and overcome such a situation? Did you and your team have a backup plan? If so, would it still be just as effective to help you win the sale? If you didn’t have one, are you and your team resourceful enough to save the moment, remaining calm and professional?
  • You may have a market leading product or service your customer is using but what happens if they rang you out of the blue because it failed them and they wanted an urgent resolution? How would you respond there and then? (You need to think on your feet, remember?) Are you resourceful enough to even ask your team if they have any ideas? How would you and your team spring into action to ensure your customer remains totally satisfied and even feels impressed with what you did for them?
  • You finish a meeting at your office and walk your visitor back to the lift. A bomb goes off and blasts the lift shaft before the elevator arrives. How would you protect your visitor, your staff and everyone else within each whilst there’s a fire and thick smoke? Sounds extreme? It happened to my late father in Singapore in the sixties. He thought he’d seen enough in WW2, yet it happened. (By the way, he saved and bonded with the lady who was his visitor. She ended up being my step-mother and a great one too. Perhaps some will see that as being extra resourceful?!)

There are many ‘gurus’ in business. Like most experts, some are bound to be better than others. Those of you who know me will realise how much I cringe at the term when used in a business context, but it’s there. As part of my due diligence in deciding whether I do business with such people, whether directly or through partnership, I check whether they are resourceful. You should too.

Here are 7 key traits of resourceful business people:

  • They have a ‘can-do’ attitude and are creative.
  • They are collaborators. (With the right people).
  • They are well connected and have a natural trust with other resourceful people.
  • They, most likely, have survived adversity and not just once. (They don’t moan about it).
  • They don’t necessarily hate rules; they just bend or even break them. (If someone tells you there’s a rule, break it. That’s the only thing that moves things forward.” Hans Zimmer).
  • They have many things on-the-go simultaneously.
  • They are not afraid to put themselves on-the-line, especially if it’s for the greater good. (Resourceful people will totally understand this point).

Resourceful people like others who have ‘earned their stripes’; those who don’t give up easily. They are usually quick to spot the fakers and are suspicious of those who tell a good story, however, struggle to back it up with evidence.

Look after and give resourceful people space to create and show how they can help you. Trust them and keep them challenged. They will respect you and will be very loyal in return.

Ignore a resourceful person and you will lose them to your competitor or they may even take you head-on themselves. And they won’t be just another competitor either. Their motive won’t be retaliation or similar, it will be ambition and drive.

So either respect resourceful people or watch your back. They have the ability to outsmart you, whether you like it or not. If you consider yourself to be as resourceful as they are, then the games would have most likely already begun.


John Coupland
John Coupland
JOHN is an independent marketing consultant and is the bestselling author of ACCELerate™ Your Social Media. With extensive experience in e-business and ICT, he helps ambitious entrepreneurs, business owners, and corporates with their business growth using his unique and proven ACCELerate™ methodology. John speaks at leading business events, has written a number of articles for major publications worldwide, and is a member of The Brain Trust®, Small Business Advocate Show®, America. Amongst a number of awards, John played an instrumental role in helping a major UK department store chain achieve the Queen's Awards for Enterprise - Innovation. Learn more at ACCELerate™ Your Business

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  1. The article targets some good messages. I feel traditional management needs a major update in their assumptions and approaches. No matter how much you plan and allocate resources, you cannot do this in a vacuum. People are people that usually create something that is more than the sum of its parts.

  2. John, I enjoyed this article. In many ways, the words resourceful and resilient could be interchanged with each other. Now I am going to contemplate whether resilience makes one resourceful or resourcefulness makes one resilient. I suspect they feed one another.

    Loved the bit about your Dad and Step-Mom.

    • Thank you Jeanine. They probably are interchangeable. Resilience would certainly play a big part in some of the key traits of resourceful people in my view. Particularly the 7th one.

      Yes, it turned out to be a bit of a love story that one. Even my late father and my step mother would agree there are better, more calmer, ways to meet!