We all know that leadership matters, whether in government, business, professional groups or nonprofits. During the course of my career, I’ve watched many different leaders in my firm, profession, industry and community who have helped me grow personally and professionally. By their example, they were and remain my teachers, whether I know them personally or not.

I believe that some of the most meaningful examples of leadership, success and achievement are those that surround us in our daily lives, but are often easily overlooked or forgotten. For example, I have been blessed to be loved and supported by a wonderful family who always inspire me and who taught me, by their words and deeds, that success and achievement are all about character, doing the right thing and recognizing that kindness matters.

In addition, I’ve been lucky to benefit from colleagues who offered help when I needed it most, mentors who guided and motivated me and friends who provided unconditional love and support. These types of individuals and relationships strengthen us, encourage us and enable us to accomplish what we could not achieve by ourselves.

By watching and learning from such role models, I have developed these principles that guide my professional life:

  • Embrace flexibility and the need to manage change. Nothing stays the same for long.
  • Recognize the importance of building consensus. Often, this is more important than the actual outcome of any particular decision.
  • Be honest and straight-forward. Recognize that that there are times you will need to deliver bad news or say no, and that you
    must do so gracefully and directly.
  • Being a great team leader doesn’t mean that you always have to be the star player.
  • There is no substitute for competence, hard work and thorough preparation.
  • Be concise. Everyone’s time is at a premium. Make sure that you get to the point and that your comments add value.
  • Never compromise your principles. Your reputation is priceless and irreplaceable.
  • Determine what is important, focus on those priorities and let go of the rest.
  • Understand that you don’t have to win every point in a negotiation—just the points that are most important to your client or organization.
  • Never hesitate to ask for help or forget the people who were willing to offer you guidance. Likewise, never forget your responsibility to reach out and support others.