Caterpillar VP offers “Words of Wisdom”

November 1, 2011

I was asked to give you all some “words of wisdom.” I don’t know how wise I am yet, but I can tell you I have four very specific leadership concepts that transcend through your college years, family life, work and your community service. All four of these concepts develop, as you develop individually.

So my four key concepts – my Leadership DNA. It’s all about being authentic, genuine, humble and a visionary.

  1. Authentic: Be true to yourself – even when the pressure is on. You must make tough decisions as a leader, but when you do and stick to whom you are – this earns trust.
  2. Genuine: Mean what you say – at all times. This is not an easy trait. Leaders must listen and learn from everyone resulting in sincerity, when then results in belief.
  3. Humble: Respect and recognize that every person, every opinion has value. Remembering your past and keeping a focus on family helps you relate to others.
  4. Visionary: Paint a clear picture. Push employees and leaders to do their best work and lead with courage. Set the strategy, execute on the plan and hold others accountable for results.

Now you may like those four concepts … but how do you put them in action? I’ll give you a few of my “tips” that are many times not discussed, but understood. These tips only work when you are aware of the culture and recognize when you need to adjust your style.

Tip #1: Communication, Communication and Communication. Articulate your point with clear, crisp comments – both written and orally.

Tip #2: Establish credibility early on. “Everyone” is watching to see if you got “it,” so maximize every opportunity.

Tip #3: Use your emotional filter. Take the emotion out of the discussion. Clearly state your position and stick to the facts.

Tip #4: Balance your education. Technical capability is critical, but balance that with the business side as well.

Tip #5: Execute on the vision. Gain support of others by establishing “followers” and the execution will be much easier.

Tip #6: Read the people! If employees and/or leaders are not following you, ask them why. When you read the signs, it is clear if people understand and support your message. Things like body language, eye contact, shifting as they speak are simple things to look for.

I hope these tips are easy to remember … and also help you on your life journey.