I recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of my entry into the business world – I still remember that day in 1982, when, fresh out of college, I walked through the door of Ernst & Whinney in San Antonio, Texas, and started my journey to the place where I now sit and write this post, in Portland, Oregon.
It’s been a great ride, full of twists, turns, surprises, thrills, chills, great success, gut-checking failures, and yep, fun. And I got to be what what I really wanted to be: a leader
Through it all, there have been 10 core leadership guideposts that have kept me pushing forward – qualities that I now know were critical to my development as a successful business leader.
I shared them once before back in 2006, and here they are again, still relevant as ever:
Common Sense – The definition says it all: “Sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge”. It’s been an innate ‘logic barometer’ that has guided me from situation to situation, and has counseled me from decision to decision.
Intellectual Curiosity – I’ve always had a huge appetite for learning, since I started reading encyclopedias when I was 3 (at least that’s what my mom tells me!). This curiosity has pushed me forward in opening up my world to new ideas and experiences. It also keeps me humble in a sense that there’s so much I DON’T know.
Passion – The best way to figure out the importance of this one is to recall a time in one’s life or career where it didn’t exist – that happened to me, and it’s like draining all the oil out of an engine and still trying to go 100 miles an hour. It’s not pretty, all the grinding and gnashing. Passion is the “oil” that keeps me going at peak performance.
Relentless Optimism – Take a look at the masthead of this blog. Yes, my glass is half full. I’ve defined half-fullism as “dealing with the literal world in a favorable way”, and that really speaks to my viewpoint – I’m always trying to make lemonade out of lemons (without rose colored glasses).
Influential Mentor and/or Parent – The influence of my parents and a couple of key mentors have been invaluable to my personal and career development – my parents taught me the value of trust, and my two mentors taught me about business, leadership and optimism in two totally different ways, but both utterly valuable.
Love – When I think of love and leadership I recall legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, and his declaration that leadership love is “the most powerful thing there is“. It binds, it inspires, and makes success possible beyond our wildest dreams. While passion is the oil, love is the gas.
Good Moral Grounding – For me, the ability to make personal distinctions between right and wrong couldn’t happen without being properly grounded in moral principles – I was fortunate to get that from my family, and from the parochial education I received all the way through college.
Luck – I know one can “create” luck, or put oneself in a position to take advantage of luck, but it’s still luck. I had several instances where luck, fate, karma, or some similar phenomenon intervened and changed my life, mostly for the better (but sometimes not).
Integrity – The net result of the moral grounding, I feel that it’s vital to keep my my promises and fulfill my commitments, because being trusted by others is one of the gifts I treasure the most.
Belief in Yourself – This is the foundation of all successes – a deep seeded confidence that someway, somehow you can get to where you want to go. For me, I always wanted to be a leader, and I kept at it knowing that if I was given that responsibility, I could do it and do it well.
(Photo by Bigstock)