As blessed as I’ve been to serve across a spectrum of leadership roles in my career, the most important leadership moments come straight from the field—meeting teammates, clients, members of the community—and
helping people achieve their dreams. As a leader, there’s no better feeling and no greater reward.
My grandfather used to say, “Even if the odds are one in a million, all you have to be is the ‘one.’” That phrase
has always been a game-changer for me. Over the years I’ve always remembered that I can be the one—the one
to inspire, the one to make a difference, and the one to create change that’s so needed in our world today.
Here are the guiding leadership principles I follow that never let me down:

  • You have to know your purpose. Find a company whose purpose and values align personally and
    professionally with yours. In order to lead successfully, you have to be in the right environment with the right
  •  Surround yourself with a talented team that wants to succeed together. There’s an often-cited
    African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It’s critical you
    surround yourself with people who possess a “one team” mindset.
  • Take risks with good misses. You’re either learning or winning; you’re never failing. Many new leaders take the conservative approach because they’re apprehensive about the risks involved on the road less traveled. But whether the outcome is positive or negative, the right risk is worth taking because you gain invaluable experience and insight.
  • Understand how you create value. Dual value creation, both traditional values and economic value, can set you apart.
    Recognize how you do that within your company and do it to the best of your ability.
  •  Be a great innovator. Those who can reimagine the future of business have an advantage that will afford them opportunities to be a part of exciting new endeavors.
  • The world leads with digital and data science—and so must you. If there’s one thing I learned when I had the privilege of serving as Truist’s chief digital and client experience officer, is that the world revolves around digital capabilities and the study of data science. Grow and hone your skills in this space.
  • Improve yourself versus prove yourself. It’s better to be the best “you” versus the second-best “someone else.” When you’re in a room full of people, let your authentic self, skills, and talents speak for themselves. And commit to being a continuous, lifelong learner.
  • Always lead with empathy. Understand your client’s or teammate’s pain points and dig deep to find a solution that helps them.
  • Be a servant leader in work and in life. Focus on the “we” versus “me.” If you do this, the people you serve will win, and so will you.

Truist’s Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers comes to work every day instilling in us that our No. 1 job as leaders is to bring purpose to the work and clarity to complexity. If we can do those things, we can be the catalyst that moves our purpose, mission, and values forward. And isn’t that ultimately our job as leaders—to guide and inspire others in a positive, meaningful way? To be the one?

That’s the biggest lesson of all.

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