When I was six, my father’s company profiled him and our family in their internal magazine. When asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I was quoted as saying, “I want to be in business like my Daddy.” At the time, all I knew was that what he was doing seemed really important and that he was proud of doing it. Over time, as I got more educated about the business world and what it entailed, I found myself gravitating toward it. Through the years, I’ve picked up a lot of tenets that I use in my career. Along the way, I’ve seen that many of these principles closely parallel what I use to maintain a satisfying personal life as well.
Mind wide open. My academic years were a wonderful time in my life because I was exposed to so many different subjects, types of people, and ways of thinking. I now realize that I never stopped being a student, and I’ll serve myself well if I continue being one. I seek opportunities to learn and gather insights from others to expand my thinking. The minute I stop doing that, I will stop growing and making contributions to the people in my life and the organizations I work in.
Learn by listening. For me, listening is an extremely valuable way to learn and I often wonder if it’s used effectively enough among corporate citizens. If you talk more than you listen, it’s hard to be a good student or an effective coach and teacher. Hearing what’s said and what’s not said makes all the difference – whether solving business problems, addressing client issues, mentoring and coaching, or sustaining a personal relationship.
Relationships are not to be underestimated. My relationships are critical in my professional life and precious in my personal life. I value the ones I have developed throughout my career and place a great deal of importance on maintaining them. Leaders are not successful alone. Nurtured relationships are vital to good leadership and they start with respect and appreciation.
Know what value you add. It is important to be aware of what you bring to your organization. Use assessment tools, feedback from peers and your leadership, and self-reflection to recognize what you contribute. Having this awareness will allow you to control your brand as you articulate your value-add to others.