1. Respect everyone. Respect does not always constitute conciliation and may sometimes require the communication of appropriate boundaries. However, in dealing with others, remember that there are no “little” people. Rather, leaders exist on all levels of an organization. Those who arrogantly disregard this principle may rise to the top, but they will never, no matter how hard they try, find true fulfillment within themselves and will rarely earn anything more than coerced respect from those around them.
2. Never lose sight of your mission. Even if you work in a secluded office with lots of staff, the mission of your organization should be front and central to everything you do. If it weren’t for the ones your organization purports to serve, be it the consumer, the student, the patient, or the client, you would not be where you are. Every effort to serve their best interest first and foremost is essential to maintaining your professional integrity.
3. Surround yourself with mentors. Spend as much time as possible learning from the people who are divinely placed in your life journey. They are not necessarily the ones who give you gifts or flatter you. Rather, you will know them by these traits. They will encourage you when you need encouragement and will provide guidance when you need direction. They will never intentionally harm you, undermine you, or betray you. They will not condemn you.
4. Mentor others gently. Do not assume that everyone who works for you is there for you to mentor. Offer sincere encouragement and respond earnestly to requests for counsel. Listen before you speak and more often, but when you speak, make your voice count both for your audience and for those who would not otherwise be heard.
5. Be true to self. Give all that you can to contemplating self awareness. Understand your limitations and make accommodations for them where you can, but more importantly, exercise your strengths with everything you have to give and without reservation for those who may judge you. It is better to achieve a personal desire for excellence than to achieve for another a desire to limit you.
6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Everyone makes mistakes, even you. Learn to find humor where you can. Put an end to any thinking that you have to be perfect in order to be successful. You will get along better with those around you if you demonstrate your own humanity on occasion.
7. Attack the system, not the people. The blame game only results in cover-up and an inability to identify meaningful solutions, but it is through the critical analysis and revision of systems that defensiveness is diffused and the groundwork for long-term sustainability gained.
8. Develop an exit strategy. Begin considering how you might transition out of an organization as soon as possible. Those who do not may find themselves compromising their value system for the sake of self-preservation. Don’t be anxious to walk, but always be willing and able if the circumstances merit it.
9. Use spin sparingly, if at all. In dealing with the public, you will be held to the things you say and to the position you take as a representative of an organization long after you have departed from it.
10. Diversify your interests. Even those who derive great satisfaction from a job may find themselves at some point looking for another one. If and when that happens, losing one aspect of your purpose is less damaging to the soul than losing something that you have made an overwhelming and fundamental part of your existence.
11. Reach outside the company. Friends and colleagues at your place of employment are important to have, but they may not be in a position to support you in your career goals, particularly during an exit transition. It is often the colleagues and friends you make outside of your organization who will help you navigate the path to your next venture.
12. Leave your legacy at home. Supervisors, coworkers, and subordinates are not your family and do not wish to hear you boast about yourself even if they may say otherwise. Lift up those around you in the office and you may be lifted up in return, but remember that it is the people who live under the roof where you sleep who will pass on your story to the next generation.