Lead with intelligence – life is about making a contribution

I believe in authentic leadership — I’m not an actor and I can be somewhat blunt when expressing opinions. I am who I am. I encourage others to be who they are, to be honest and genuine in all aspects of life. I’m not one character in the office and another person at home.

My values are consistent as a businessperson, an investor, a father, a spouse, a friend, a community member, a man of faith. Remember that managers do things right. Leaders do the right things. Here are some ways you can apply leadership to your everyday life.

I live my motto to “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 in all interactions.

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 bringing their skills to the table so all can benefit. 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
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, give the person what he or she wants. But is this really a solution? Second-level thinking prompt 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?”

When we look at how to arrive at value, we should ask the following: What is the catalyst that will unlock value? What is the catalyst that will make a difference? How can we unlock potential in life’s situations to do good?

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 have to look deeper than the surface, practice second-level thinking and always remember the details.

Umberto P. Fedeli is CEO at The Fedeli Group.