Leadership and success in business today are often narrowly defined by job status, remuneration, power, and awards. However, I believe true leadership and success is as much about personal development as it is personal achievement. It is about relationships, creativity, learning, growing, and making a difference every day. Real success must ring true with who you are—it is not a destination, but a journey.
There are many good academic theories that suggest what leadership skills we should employ to succeed today, but the advice I would like to pass on to future business leaders comes from personal life experiences with family, friends, and colleagues, and from the opportunity to work in several different countries with Unilever.
Approach everything you do with Passion and Purpose. My father always insisted, if you are going to take part—compete to win! Know what you want to do, and give it your all. Many understand purpose knowledge, but what is needed to connect and engage others in our purpose comes through passion – the heart. Balancing head and heart as a leader is critical to success.
Understand the shadow you cast—Self Awareness. Being mindful of your impact on others is key to understanding how to approach, motivate, and inspire the company’s most valuable asset—its people. Likewise, invest the time to get to know your team, the struggles they face, and how you can encourage and support them to achieve their goals.
Embrace Diversity, and Value Inclusion. Competitive edge can be gained by harnessing the rich mosaic within the workforce and creating an environment where teams can share different ideas/perspectives and perform to their full potential. This is not simply about gender, age, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation: it’s about open-mindedness, embracing non-conformity, and creating balanced teams.
Seize Opportunities that help you achieve your life’s ambitions. Set your goals high and never let anyone convince you anything is impossible. My mother was my greatest inspiration. Her philosophy—“If you think you can, you’re right, and if you think you can’t, you’re right.” Hard work, love, and luck turned my opportunities into life changing experiences.
Above all, always hold true to your Core Values. Remember to have fun, celebrate successes, and live life to its fullest. Ask yourself what you want to be remembered for in life, and set your priorities noW to ensure you realize all your dreams.