Looking back, I recognize some things that helped me progress as a leader that I would counsel others to try. First, find good and diverse mentors who are not just successful, but who also share your values and interests. Then network, and mentor others as you yourself progress. Share information rather than hoard it; knowledge is more powerful when shared.
Whenever presenting a problem to your bosses, always also present a solution that considers their broader responsibility as well as potential opposing arguments; address these issues. Avoid the trap of either/or solutions where someone loses; try to find a creative third way, where more people can win, and enlist support.
Be honest and maintain your integrity. Smile and treat people with respect. Support and thank your people often when they are right, and coach them when they’re not. Nominate deserving people for rewards/awards. When you’re angry, take a deep breath; and save that flaming e-mail till after you’ve had a chance to review and edit it again.
Don’t be limited by others’ prejudice or discrimination, or worse, sexual extortion. Think about your threshold before you get there, and draw lines. Decide whether it is a ‘teaching moment’ or if there’s no chance for that; speak out constructively and respectfully, and document every incident. Insist on being treatedin ways that you have earned and being paid for your skills and experience; likewise, stand up for others when you witness unfairness.
Always take responsibility for your decisions and actions. Move issues from endless discussion to some constructive action, identifying who’s responsible and when it needs to be done. Be a decisive leader, but don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong or change your mind with new information. Readily ask for advice from above and input from below. When making career decisions, try to choose opportunities that open options, and remember that you’re usually not qualified for a position until you get it. Finally, never be afraid to ask to be supported for special opportunities—the worst someone can say is “no.”