What follows below are some operational practices that I saw in other successful people that I adopted successfully and converted into a set of personal rules to work by in the two careers I had starting with the FAA.
1. One’s Present Job. There is no better way to success than doing your current job well whether you like the job or not, or whether it is a permanent arrangement. Every day, in one way or another, what we do is judged by our superiors, our peers, our subordinates, and us. Each of these judgments is extremely important for our future success.
2. A Legitimate “Can-Do” Attitude. Your first reaction to an assignment should be positive, and your thoughts should initially be, “how can I make this work? Deal with your reservations and concerns but do that second. If your initial reactions are negative, you appear negative.
3. Commitments. Carefully make commitments and then keep them if possible. Think before you make the commitment. Be sure it can be accomplished then execute. If it proves that you bit off too much in making your commitment, let the person to whom you made the commitment know immediately. Do not let them know at the last minute that you cannot make it.
4. Perform excellent support work. This is extremely important. Whenever you present your work to your boss, give him or her what he or she needs to decide. This means a clear statement of the problem, an analysis of alternatives, and a recommendation that naturally follows. This is your opportunity to really have influence!
5. Seize the Day. I interpret this phrase to mean to be alert for opportunity and grab it when it appears. Take that high risk, high visibility assignment and show what you can do! Consider it an opportunity for success rather than a risk of failure. No matter how good you are, if no one can see you, you are never noticed. If you should fail, handle it honestly and with dignity. Consider it a learning experience. A person impressed me a great deal after she had done several months’ work that was rejected because the boss changed directions unexpectedly. She took it in stride, made the changes, and never showed disappointment, anger, or great concern.
6. Share Success and Accept Accountability. There are few projects that we handle alone. This is particularly true the higher you go. Never miss an opportunity to praise others publicly for what they contributed to the success. Conversely, accept your own accountability for failure if it doesn’t go well. Criticism should be shared in private.
7. Tell the truth. Nothing can affect your credibility more negatively than being untruthful. I am not talking about just telling lies; I am also talking about overstatement for effect, manipulative distortion, and trying to appear to know when you do not. Every time you do one of these things, you erode the confidence of others in what you say.
8. Never Forget Your Customers. We all have customers, both internal and external. They are our reason for being. Therefore, we must be responsive to their needs and keep them paramount in our minds. Without them, we do not have a job. Everything we do should have them in mind.
9. Boss Management. Manage your boss effectively. Be mindful of his or her time. Use it wisely because both of you are busy. Keep him or her informed of issues, successes, and concerns. Your boss cannot help you if he or she doesn’t know what is going on. Never surprise him or her.
10. Be Mindful of How You Treat Others. Your effectiveness is affected in some way by almost everyone with whom you deal; upward, downward, and at your peer level. It is important to treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve; the way you and everyone else likes to be treated.
11. Feel Good About Yourself! You are a special individual with a great deal to offer. You, like everyone, are special, with skills, aptitudes, abilities, and other reasons for feeling good about yourself. If you feel good about yourself and your potential, you will project that attitude in everything you do. People who see themselves as victims are never winners. They do it to themselves with their attitudes because they don’t really expect to win!
12. Your Image. Some of you may react to image as a shallow value that lacks substance. Maybe so, but believe me, it is important. You have only one opportunity to make a good impression, and even a good first impression can be damaged easily.
a. Pay attention to those who you admire for having a good image. Learn from them. What is it about them that create that sense of effectiveness? While you cannot be them, you can learn from them. Tailor their positive behaviors to your personality.
b. Pay attention to what you say and how you say it. Try not to be critical of others‑. Lift them up! Project an attitude of positivism about yourself and about them. Portray an attitude of success in your approach to yourself, your job, and your organization.
c. People notice how you dress and carry yourself. You do not have to dress expensively‑‑ just appropriately and in good taste. Carry your head high and your shoulders back. You are somebody. Be mindful of your posture when you sit or stand.
d. Telephone manners. You say a great deal when you answer the telephone. The most effective people answer the phone with an attitude that they like the caller, what he or she has to say is important, they like themselves, and their job.
e. Energy. We all get tired. However, if we show it, other people notice it. On the other hand, some people appear tireless. Who is the most effective, someone who appears tired, or someone who seems to have limitless energy? Even simple actions transmit these messages. For example, if you are walking, act like you are going somewhere and that your time is important.
f. A sense of humor. We should be serious about ourselves, but we should never stop keeping an element of fun in our work life. Enjoy it! Work should be fun. Fun should be shared.
g. Correspondence. Whether you are speaking to someone personally or on the telephone, or writing a letter or e-mail, the tone of your communication is as important as the content. Be sure you do not transmit a nonverbal message that was never intended.
Except for the exercise below, this
concludes the lesson on Personal Leadership.
We believe if you follow these guidelines, you will receive a “boost” to
achieving your objectives.