Leadership has different meanings for everyone, for me I think a good leader has the perfect mix of knowledge and confidence; the recipe varies. I continually seek out ways to connect myself to people that exude both attributes– fortunately Accenture has been a place where it’s been easy to find great leaders. A leader does not need to be considered a “boss” or a “supervisor” and I believe you can find leadership from your peers, those that report into you and even strangers depending on the time and place.
My most recent spot for inspiration comes from my children. While they don’t work for Accenture, they motivate me to do my best every day because I am committed to giving them a good start on life. I cannot imagine leaving school, friends, having to cut my hair short and start at a new school in a new country. That is what I asked my son to do. While I have three children, the oldest has the toughest adjustment to our new life in India. His sports that he participated at school do not exist here in his Bangalore school (i.e., sailing, wrestling, track & field), there is not a traveling orchestra and his best friends are no longer a quick bike ride away. Each morning he is the first one up, he walks the dog, exercises, packs his things for school and maintains a consistent level of discipline in his studies. When my inbox is exploding, the commute is long and I just don’t know how I can have an impact in such a large organization; I look to my kids who are not complaining, producing good grades and embracing a new life. If they can do it, I need to figure out how to as well.
Professionally, I have had the opportunity to work for some of our current global leads when they were managers or senior managers. I now listen to their recorded video messages or read their email announcements knowing with full faith they are in the right role to take Accenture forward. It was those years on ground, working on staffing plans, running moderation meetings that I got to know them for their integrity and ability to make an unpopular decision because it’s the right thing for the people or our business. I go back to that mental archive on a regular basis when I am faced with a tough decision or needing to give guidance to our team. Leadership lives on and when you are a strong leader, the people around you take that forward and influence others.
Finally, I look to regular people who influence the world. I think back to Rosa Parks, an African American woman, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man (which was the law at the time) and that incident started the American Civil Rights Movement. I solemnly remember the group of passengers who confronted terrorists and averted their plane from crashing into Washington on September 11th. These people did not wake up that day to change the world; however they followed their instincts, stood up for what they believed in and influenced others to make a positive change for a greater population. We all have that power and we should choose to execute it.
I recently met with a group of our IDC entry level HR people, I left them with these parting thoughts
- We are typically not faced with life and death decisions, so take a few minutes to get to the right answer.
- Don’t let a bad day yesterday ruin your day today, understand what went wrong, commit to doing the things in your power to prevent it in the future and start fresh again
- Never send emails in the heat of the moment, once it’s written you cannot take it back; it’s much better to take a quick walk around the bay or climb a few flights of stairs to reset yourself.
- Giving people the bad news is just important as the good news, don’t let either kind go unnoticed.
While these tips seem basic, they are tactics I employ every day to help me manage my inbox, employee situations and processes that are going awry. I am not academic in my leadership principles; I rely on perspective, good judgment, experience and confidence in myself and others to lead… And if these fail me, I have a great network of smart, confident people across the globe to help me sort it out.