As in much of life, not everything comes naturally, and much comes from hard work and astute observation. I’d like to share six lessons from my experience:
First, care passionately about what you do. Absent this passion, you will never truly excel—because doing well takes hard work and long hours, and you need that caring and commitment to sustain you. Ultimately, that passion nourishes the vision that every leader needs to motivate the hearts and minds of others.
Second, find inspiring role models. They may be male or female, but they must have the brilliance and drive and integrity that spur you to emulate them and, by osmosis, to continually improve yourself. While we may learn most profoundly from our own failures, we can learn much (and less painfully) from the experience of others.
Third, mentor and develop others. Good leaders exist because they have learned to surround themselves with great people. You will be infinitely rewarded for encouraging the talents of others who will support you through life. And because we can never lead without others willing to come along, always acknowledge the contributions of others. Appreciation of others’ talents is a powerful and underutilized motivator critical to any team’s success.
Fourth, learn to communicate in a way that persuades others and that enables others to buy in to your vision or idea. Your best ideas will get nowhere if others are not willing to embrace them with confidence.
Fifth, pursue learning voraciously; be open to new ideas and change. We often learn most—and most intensely—when confronted with a dramatic career change or unexpected development. Moreover, the global marketplace will continue to evolve more and more rapidly, placing a premium on flexibility, creativity, and open-mindedness.
Sixth, maintain your personal and professional integrity. Your reputation is your most important asset and one you cannot afford to lose. The tone of a corporation is set at the top, but you will never get to the top if you compromise your core values.