The disciplines of every executive develop through a combination of what we read, experience and learn. We learn by having both triumphs and failures. We learn from people who are successful in various fields. And we learn from people when we don’t like the way they approach certain things.
Learning how not to be is as important as learning how to be. In life, before we figure out what we want to do, we have to figure out who we want to be.
There are many aspects in the life of an executive.
Gerald Bell, Ph.D., of the Bell Leadership Institute, talks about being a “peak performer.” To be a peak performer and at the top of our game as professionals, we have to balance our personal and professional lives.
For example, we may be successful in business but strain our personal relationships. And if we don’t pay attention to our health, how will we be at the top of our game? We have to work on balancing the seven aspects of our life — family, personal, health, financial, career, spiritual and fun/happy — to be a peak performer. If one aspect is off balance, it will affect our business.
Commitment to lifelong learning
Continuously learning about life is the discipline that resonates most with me. This includes learning about your profession, your community, your industry, your business and the people you do business with. It is a lifelong commitment to learning and improvement, and it takes a desire to constantly learn and improve.
Learning is a process, but it’s about making the commitment to continuously learn. There are many aspects of learning, including staying motivated, reading, going to lectures, being proactive instead of reactive and taking leadership roles where we are taking the initiative, so we’re not always just responding.
Playing to our strengths
By playing to our strengths, success can be achieved. The concept of rational targeting is an important part of playing to our strengths. Rational targeting is identifying what we do well, what is needed and how those two intersect. Where are the needs? If we do A, B and C well, and there is a need for A, B and C, we are playing to our strengths. If we do X well but Y is needed, then we are not playing to our strengths. We have to be intellectually honest about our strengths. Spend time with people you know and ask them for their review.
Communication is vital
Great communication is crucial in every part of success for executives. This includes communicating with our family, business associates, colleagues, people in our community, customers, vendors and suppliers.
Constantly communicating, while continuing to develop these skills, is important. Use as many different communication forms as you can. Communications tools are always evolving and changing. But at the end of the day, personal touch is what really matters. Nothing is better than a face-to-face meeting, but we are limited with face to face because we can only see so many people in a day. Phone calls and emails are good, too, but we have to be particularly careful when we put things in writing, as it is permanent.
Umberto Fedeli is president and CEO of The Fedeli Group. He is an investor in numerous ventures. He is on the boards of directors of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, John Carroll University, the Cleveland Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization and The 50 Club.