Editor's note: Follow Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good on LinkedIn, where this article first appeared. LinkedIn members can read, like, share and comment on Good's posts.
Success often takes a winding path. Over the years, I’ve observed a few timeless attributes that high-performing, successful people have used to navigate their career journey. I look for and encourage these qualities in employees, and recently discussed them with a large group of university students preparing to enter the business world. Whether you’re a seasoned manager or just starting your career, you might consider these three P’s.
First, passion. You’re going to be at your best if you are relentlessly curious about your work and your organization’s purpose. This shows up as asking questions and being prepared to express an informed point of view. I encourage our employees at all levels to be a “student of the business” – to learn why things work the way they do and how they support our company’s strategy. I love seeing an inquisitive plant engineer quiz me about the forces driving change in our nation’s power generation mix and how our company is responding.
Passion also shows up when you are bold in taking on the hard challenges that will stretch your abilities and accelerate your career. It may be a complex special project or a new strategic initiative. A continuous-growth mindset, including being open to diverse, contrary points of view, will serve you well at every stage of your journey.
Second, possibilities. Careers, especially these days, are rarely linear and predictable. There will likely be significant setbacks and unexpected detours. In 2002, 20 years into a successful career with top international accounting firm Arthur Andersen, I lost everything I had worked for when the firm collapsed from entanglements with Enron, a major client that had filed for bankruptcy a few months earlier.
I was determined to face that harsh reality head-on, to explore the possibilities of what’s next and to move forward rather than remaining stuck in feeling sorry for myself over a situation that was not my doing. My detour eventually took me to Duke Energy and a leadership role bigger than any I had ever imagined.
You always have a choice in how you respond to difficult circumstances. Choosing to act with courage and optimism will open new doors and strengthen your resilience and agility – learned attributes at a premium in today’s complex, volatile business environment.
Third, perspective. Recognize that your journey never really ends, especially if you aspire to a senior leadership role. Disruptive changes are now occurring at a faster rate in every industry. As a leader, you need to keep growing and adapting to new risks and opportunities – challenging yourself, your assumptions and your team to become better and more innovative.
My industry is undergoing extraordinary transformation driven by consumer expectations, emerging technologies and new public policies. That’s true of many sectors in our economy. Adopting the right perspective – viewing the path before you as a marathon with twists and turns, not a straight-line sprint – will help you avoid tunnel vision and complacency, and stay focused on enduring priorities and long-term value.
As I’m keenly aware within my own family, we’re now in the season of the year when a fresh wave of college graduates is about to enter the job market. But whether you’re just embarking on your career, mid-way through it or looking ahead to what’s next in your journey, I believe you will find passion, possibilities and perspective to be hallmarks of success. I wish you all the best.
As a leader, you need to keep growing and adapting to new risks and opportunities
Follow Lynn Good on LinkedIn, where you can read, like, share and comment on Good's posts.