I believe in authentic leadership. Lead with integrity. Lead honestly. I’m not an actor, and I can be somewhat blunt when expressing opinions. I am who I am, and I encourage others to be who they are and to be honest and genuine in all aspects of life. I’m not one character in the office and then another at home. My character and values are consistent as a businessperson, an investor, a father, a spouse, a friend, a community member and a man of faith.
Be consistent and lead with emotional intelligence — and with intensity.
As Warren Bennis said, “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” I apply the competencies within the emotional intelligence domains to lead successfully at The Fedeli Group and in every area of my life.
Self-awareness. I live my motto, “Be who I am,” every day. That means I must first know myself, and that requires a high degree of self-awareness. I spend a lot of time reflecting, reading, learning, asking questions and listening. I’ve been this way since I was young. But knowing yourself isn’t the only road to self-awareness. You must also execute on your beliefs and have the courage and confidence to carry out your motto consistently with all interactions.
Self-management. Be transparent. Avoid switching roles between CEO and father, community member and investor. Set high standards for your people and yourself, and measure them on their performance. Set a positive example by building a hard-working culture that rewards diligence and initiative.
Social awareness. To have influence with others, you must first ask how you can help them. Care about others. Work to help them, and they will help you. Forward the success of others, and you will become successful.
Relationship management. Business is a mutual agreement among neighbors — I’ll help you with this, you help me with that. Relationships should be collaborative with individuals who bring their skills to the table so all can benefit. Treat relationships as long-term investments and focus on helping others. Be sure to manage expectations so you can deliver. Sometimes people’s expectations need to be realigned. And as for relationships, act as a conduit. Many times, I don’t have the answers when someone needs help, but I can direct that person to another in my network who does. Connect the dots.
Second-level thinking: Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital talks about a concept called second-level thinking in his book, “The Most Important Thing.” First-level thinking says, “It’s a good company, let’s buy the stock.” But second-level thinking says, “Everyone thinks it’s a great company. That makes it overpriced — sell.” First-level thinking skims the surface — but second-level thinking, as Marks explains, is a way of digging deeper and truly thinking through scenarios in investing and business. What insight do you have that others may not? How can you gain an edge? How can you contribute? Where can you make a difference?
In business, a colleague may ask for a favor or bend your ear to talk about a problem. You can do the “first-level” thing and react quickly and give the person what he or she wants. Is this really a solution? Second-level thinking prompts us to peel back that surface layer and thoughtfully consider situations before acting. In my life, I find that second-level thinking means asking myself, “What does this person need?” instead of, “What does he want?”
Going along with second-level thinking is the importance of details and checklists. Think about a pilot preparing for takeoff. One misstep could change the fate of everyone on the plane. One detail is the difference between people in the cabin arriving at the destination safely — or not at all.
When we look at how to arrive at value, we should ask: What is the catalyst that will unlock value? And in life, we can ask: What is the catalyst that will make a difference? How can we unlock potential in life’s situations to do well? I strongly believe that you are not living until you’re giving. You can obtain anything you want by helping others get what they want. Life is about making a contribution, and to do that you must look deeper than the surface, practice second-level thinking, and always remember the details.
Takeaway: Put the three I’s of leadership to practice in your life — lead with integrity, intelligence and intensity. Integrity is first for a reason. Without integrity, who will trust you?
Umberto Fedeli is CEO at The Fedeli Group