More than 30 years into my career (25 of those years with Capgemini), I still come to work every day excited about the work we do for clients, and equally excited about the way we work together as teams.  I attribute that to the fact that I have been surrounded by very smart, hard-working people my entire career – both as leaders and as colleagues.  It’s given me a front-row seat for what good leadership and career development look like.   And it has influenced the way I think about both. 

Because I am a list maker, I keep a running inventory of my career guiding principles.  While the order of these may change for me year over year, I can tell you that the 10 principles continue to hold true for me.  In fact, the very first leader I ever had gave me the 2:1 ratio advice below after my first client presentation.  Today, her advice remains a core tenet for me. 

When I get out with our Capgemini teams across the U.S., Canada and India, especially our younger consultants or those who are in leadership roles for the first time, they ask me to share what I have learned over my career.  These are my top 10 career guiding principles. 

10). The 2:1 ratio is a proven formula.  God gave you two ears and one mouth– use them proportionally. You’ll find that the last thing that’s said, not the first, has the most impact.

9). Build a team around skill gaps, not personal chemistry.  Pres. Abraham Lincoln famously assembled his cabinet as a ‘team of rivals.’  Surround yourself with the people who complement your weaknesses.

8). The hard calls don’t get any easier with time.   Whether or not you realize it at the time, issues are always an opportunity to make tomorrow better so dive in and make the tough call.

7). Use periods, not commas, in setting your direction.  When defining a goal or sharing your vision, be succinct and clear so it can be understood and actioned. Adding more does not actually add more.    

6). Rotate your MVPs.  Every 2-3 years, rotate the roles of the people at the table.  The same people doing the same things in the same way never fuels innovation. 

5). Sweat the small stuff.  The little things add up to the big things. Don’t overlook the importance of executing 100% on the finer points.

4). It’s human nature to crave purpose.  Teams rally around mission and vision — create it, advertise it and lead it.

3). You’re always being watched as a leader, so you’re not allowed any ‘bad days.’ Your accessibility, what you say, and how you act makes the strongest impression on confidence.

2). Yesterday’s knowledge has a short shelf life; in fact, it’s already expired.   You have to constantly pivot toward what you don’t know … yet.

1). Did you know that you are already a CEO?  Every day you get up for work, you are the CEO of your own career – manage it with the courage and determination of an entrepreneur.    

I would be interested to know what the best career advice is that you’ve received – leave me your comments below.