What are the best leadership lessons you've learned as a successful executive? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Over the years I have had the honor of working at great companies, with great teams and under fantastic leaders. I have learned what I believe is a lot, but what I know is just a small fraction of what they all had to offer. I believe the best lesson is to listen. It's the only way to learn.
As to specific "lessons", first and foremost, "always take the high road." I had the pleasure of working with an extraordinary founder of a highly successful technology company who taught me, by example, to always do the right thing.
No matter what the counterpart does, never lower yourself anywhere below the high road.
There will be many occasions where you are tempted to punch back. Give yourself time to react and make sure the reaction is respectful and positions you at the highest possible level.
Another valuable lesson I learned, from a great lady that was my boss, was to distinguish between being passionate and being emotional. My Latin blood took a while to grasp this concept. I could not conceive how you could separate the two. My best shot is by taking time to react; immediate reactions are usually emotional. You can be rational and maintain extreme passion for what you do or what you think.
Lastly, one I learned at my first job. The excellent gentleman that ran the company had a motto, which I will try to translate "Parco en la adulacion y abundante en la critica" - limited on adulation and extensive on criticism. He meant it as a self-guiding rule, rather than exercising it on others. I try to practice this every day of my life. I believe it keeps you humble and focused on the issue at hand.
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