Dan Rooney’s 3 Rules for Success

In my career, I’ve noticed that the professionals who are the most successful at work and in their personal relationships are the ones who follow a set of principles.

Interestingly, many of them break these principles down into three basic rules, which they use as their guiding compass. In using these points of reference as their guide, they consistently garner respect and remain at the forefront of their fields.

By developing an ironclad set of rules for conducting yourself in your own business, you can develop a reputation as an advisor that clients love, and teammates strive to emulate.

The “Three Rules” concept is all around us, and the more we look for it, the more we’ll notice it. For example, I recently accompanied my wife to a doctor’s appointment. After asking the doctor a few questions about my wife’s condition, he offered her the three rules to health, breaking down something extremely complex into simple and easy-to-apply principles.

Soon after, I learned of the three rules Dan Rooney lived by. As a Pittsburgh Steelers organization legend, Rooney consistently delighted the people he worked with and often managed to turn casual business acquaintances into lifelong friends.

Rooney’s charisma and likeability were not an accident. His rules for interacting with other people are a recipe for success, especially when dealing with clients.

Rooney’s rules were:

*Live up to your word. Follow through on the promises you make, and never make a promise you cannot keep. For advisors, this starts with the simple things: Attend meetings on time, respond to messages and phone calls in a timely fashion and set realistic expectations when talking to prospects.

*Carry your weight. Work to the best of your ability and avoid pushing your responsibilities onto other people. Complete all of your assignments, while also going beyond the written scope of their responsibilities when possible. If you can do more without negatively impacting your performance, do so for the benefit of the people around you.

*Look out for your friends. This rule has always impressed me the most because of Rooney’s extensive network of friends. In Rooney’s mind, the players were people first. While the coaches focused on what happened on the field, Rooney focused on their personal lives and families. With clients, advisors straddle the line between professional and personal relationships. We must dig down to establish personal connections so that clients recognize us as a resource for their overall wellbeing, in addition to their financial health.

Following these three rules helped Rooney connect with others as he climbed up the organizational ladder from a water boy to the team owner. Rooney’s behavior accelerated many relationships from acquaintances to friends, making him a joy to work with and a delight to be around inside and outside the Steelers organization. Rooney didn’t wake up one day as the team owner. He worked hard on a daily basis and earned his status through time, effort, and caring for other people.

If you focus on running your business according to three similar principles, you, too, can establish meaningful connections with prospects more quickly and develop strong relationships with your current clients. In doing so, you’ll become the advisor clients and other professionals want to work with.

John Pojeta is vice president of business development at The PT Services Group.